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(Hybrid) Nobles and Yeomen: How French Brought ‘Class’ to English with Peter Sokolowski

Tue October 11 @ 19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min


Why does English have both brotherhood and fraternity? Why is the crime called murder but the accusation called homicide? Merriam-Webster dictionary editor Peter Sokolowski speaks on why we have so many synonyms, and how our language has evolved.

French words that we use in English might seem fancy—like cuisine or couture. But these borrowings are just the more recent French invaders into our vocabulary since the time of the Norman Conquest. Waves of French and Latin words over the centuries tell much more than a linguistic story: they are a map of how we identify class and privilege in the words we use every day.

About the speaker:

Peter Sokolowski is Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster. He has written definitions for many of Merriam-Webster’s dictionaries, is active as a blogger, podcaster, and speaker on language, and has served as pronouncer for spelling bees worldwide. He was named among TIME‘s 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (Sokolowski will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

This event requires advance registration.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.

RSVP: Peter Sokolowski on Why Words Matter

37 Going


Tue October 11
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
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