Peter Sokolowski, lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, fears we're currently having a crisis of meaning in our cultural understanding and use of words.
How do we understand phrases like "fake news"? Does it mean news that has no relationship to reality or is it how President Trump refers to truth-based news he doesn't like? What is an "alternative fact"?
How can the phrase "drug deal" be used to refer to an illegal business transaction -- or in its use by former National Security Advisor John Bolton, an illegal government transaction -- and as a smear against the Navy's former top civilian leader, Richard Spencer, for trying to uphold professional standards?
How can we communicate with one another if we don't agree on the basic meaning of words?
This is Peter Sokolowski's full interview with Colin, that you heard in shortened form, in Episode 4 of Pardon Me.
- Peter Sokolowski - A lexicographer and editor-at-large at Merriam-Webster; he's also a musician and public radio jazz host at NEPR, and he's the author of a chapter in The Whole World in a Book (@PeterSokowski)
Email us your questions at email@example.com.