Yesterday I got an e-mail from a a producer at KPCC, the NPR affiliate in Los Angeles, which said:
We are doing a fun, little segment inspired by this article in this month’s Atlantic called “In Praise of Fancy Words.” … I am wondering if you might be interested in coming on our show for a live, phone interview TOMORROW, DEC 4 between 2:40p to 3:00p EDT to talk about the topic. The conversation is going to be about the enjoyment of coming across and using big words, and what our culture of instant communication has done to our diction. Also, when we lose these vocabularies, what else do we lose along with them? [It will be] a call-in show and we are expecting the conversation with Mr. Bowden would generate a lot of listener comments on which their favorite fancy word is.
It looks like it’s going to happen; anyone wanting to listen can do so at KPCC’s website. Start time is 2:40 PM Eastern (US) Time, which is 11:40 AM on the West Coast; I’ll let you work out the appropriate time for wherever you are. Bowden’s Atlantic piece was linked and discussed at this recent LH post.
Update. Just finished the call-in show; it was a lot of fun, and I was delighted that Geoff Nunberg was the other talking head (if that term can be applied to the radio). I was surprised it was over so soon (subjectively). If I’d had a chance to say one more thing, it would have been: “Once again, I must disagree with the estimable Geoff Nunberg; he has no idea whether ‘sixty or seventy percent’ of English speakers know any given word. If there’s one thing I’ve learned running a language blog, it’s that intuitions on that are worthless; I frequently learn that something I thought was vanishingly rare is in fact quite common, and vice versa. I found an online post by somebody who thinks vex, sentinel, erudite, and loquacious are ‘archaic, unusual words.’ People should use the words they like and let the chips fall where they may!” Oh well, perhaps I’ll get another chance to bloviate on the air one day. The show should be available here by 2:00 PM PST (5 PM Eastern).