Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker

Quoted in USA Today about Imus Brouhaha

I was quoted in USA Today about the Don Imus nappy-headed-ho brouhaha.

“You can’t contain language any more than you can contain air,” says lexicographer Grant Barrett, co-host of the PBS radio show A Way With Words. He says conflicts such as this happen every day all over America, unnoticed by the media. Maybe that’s better, he says, because words sting less if you don’t make a big deal of them. “When you make something taboo, that makes it all the more delicious on the lips of people who like to shock.”

Well, of course you can contain air. What I should have said (and what I usually say) was something like “You can no more contain language than you can catch all the breath that says it.” That’s what happens when the press calls for a quote on deadline and you’ve got no time to mull over the questions.

Update: I also just finished speaking on the air to Hoppy Kercheval of West Virginia’s MetroNews.

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Grant Barrett