Linguist Walks Into a Fake TV Talk Show …

Sounds like the start of a party joke — and maybe it was! Back in 2007, not long before the PBS show “The Linguists” aired with linguist K. David Harrison, the Swarthmore professor and Co-Director of the Living Tongues Institute published his book, When Languages Die. It caught the attention of none other than Stephen Colbert, comedian, who saw a chance for Stephen Colbert, fake-conservative alter-ego, to bloviate about how English is “winning!”

Harrison was up to the challenge, and came back at Colbert with his own surprise, a rare (South Asian) Indian word that got Colbert’s attention and respect.


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