Linguist John McWhorter thinks about language in relation to race, politics and our shared cultural history.

Why you should listen

John McWhorter is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, teaching linguistics, Western Civilization and music history. He is a regular columnist on language matters and race issues for Time and CNN, writes for the Wall Street Journal "Taste" page, and writes a regular column on language for The Atlantic. His work also appears in the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Aeon magazine, The American Interest and other outlets. He was Contributing Editor at The New Republic from 2001 until 2014.

McWhorter earned his PhD in linguistics from Stanford University in 1993 and is the author of The Power of BabelDoing Our Own ThingOur Magnificent Bastard TongueThe Language Hoax and most recently Words on the Move and Talking Back, Talking Black. The Teaching Company has released four of his audiovisual lecture courses on linguistics. He guest hosted the Lexicon Valley podcast at Slate during the summer of 2016.

Beyond his work in linguistics, McWhorter is the author of Losing the Race and other books on race. He has appeared regularly on Bloggingheads.TV since 2006, and he produces and plays piano for a group cabaret show, New Faces, at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City.

What others say

“The man changed my mind about texting. I love to gripe about it, but John McWhorter made me rethink how I felt.” — Ginette Evans on

John McWhorter’s TED talks

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