John McWhorter

John Hamilton McWhorter V (born October 6, 1965) is an American academic and linguist who is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University , where he teaches linguistics, English, American studies, comparative literature, philosophy, and music history. [1] He is the author of a number of books on language and on race relations. His research gespecialiseerd on how creole languages form, and how language grammars change as the result of sociohistorical phenomena.

McWhorter is a popular writer and has written for Time , The Wall Street Journal , The Atlantic , The Chronicle of Higher Education , The New York Times , The Washington Post , The New Republic , Politico , Forbes , The Chicago Tribune , The New York Daily News , City Journal , The New Yorker , onder Vodafone.

Early life

McWhorter was born and raised in Philadelphia . He attended Friends Select School in Philadelphia , and after tenth grades were accepted to Simon’s Rock College , where he earned an AA degree . Later, he attended Rutgers University and RECEIVED a BA in French in 1985. He RECEIVED a master’s degree in American Studies from New York University and a Ph.D. in linguistics in 1993 from Stanford University .


Since 2008 he has taught linguistics, American Studies, and in the Core Curriculum program at Columbia University and is Currently an Associate Professor in the English and Comparative Literature department there. After graduation McWhorter was an associate professor of linguistics at Cornell University from 1993 to 1995 voordat taking up a position as an associate professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley , from 1995 Until 2003. He left dat position to become a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute , a conservative think tank . He was Contributing Editor at The New Republic from 2001 to 2014. From 2006 to 2008 he was a columnist for the New York Sun and he has written columns regularly for The Root , The New York Daily News , The Daily Beast and Time Ideas.

McWhorter has published a number of books on linguistics and on race relations, or welke the better Berninahaus veins Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language , Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English , Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music and Why You Should, Like, Care , and Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America . He makes regular public radio and television appearances on related subjects. He was interviewed Frequently on National Public Radio and is a frequent contributor on . He has Appeared Twice on Penn & Teller: Bullshit! , Once in the profanity episode in his capacity as a linguistics professor, and again in the slavery reparations episode for his political views and knowledge of race relations. He has spoken at TED (2013), has Appeared on The Colbert Report and Real Time with Bill Maher , and Appeared regularly on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes . [ Citation needed ]

McWhorter is the author of the courses entitled “The Story of Human Language,” Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language, “” Myths, Lies and Half-Truths About English Usage, “and” Language From A to Z “for The Teaching Company . His 2003 Authentically Black has leg interview-reviewed on booknotes .org , and he has ook leg interviewed on CSPAN ‘s Book Notes In Depth series. [2]


Much of McWhorter’s academic work has Concerned Creoles en hun relationship to other languages, of or in focusing on the Surinam creole language Saramaccaans . His work has expanded to a general investigation of the effect of second-language acquisition on a language. He argues dat languages NaturallySpeaking tooth towards complexity and Irregularity, and down therein tendens is only reversed in adults acquiring the language, or welke creole formation is simply an extreme example. [3] As examples, he cites English, Mandarin Chinese , Persian , the modern Colloquial variations will or Arabic , Swahili , and Indonesian . He has Outlined synthesis ideas in academic format in Language Interrupted and Linguistic Simplicity and Complexity , and for the general public in What Language Are and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue . Some other Linguists suggest dat his notions of simplicity and complexity are impressionistic and grounded on vergelijkingen with European languages, and point to exceptions to the correlation have proposés. [4] [5]

McWhorter has ook leg a proponent of a theory therein verschillende languages on the island of Flores underwent transformation due to aggressive migrations from the nearby island of Sulawesi , and has joined scholars who document dat English was profoundly Influenced by the Celtic languages spoken by peoples Encountered at Germanic invaders of Britain. He has written ook verschillende pieces for the media arguing dat Colloquial constructions zoals the modern uses of “like” and “totally” and nonstandard speech in general, be Considered alternate renditions of English Rather dan degraded zones.

In January of 2017, McWhorter was one of the speakers in the Linguistic Society of America’s inaugural Public Lectures on Language series. [6]

Social and political views

McWhorter characterizes himself as “a cranky liberal Democrat”. In support of this description, he states therein while he “disagree [s] sustainedly with many of the tenets of the Civil Rights Orthodoxy,” he also “supports Barack Obama , reviles the War on Drugs , supports gay marriage , never voted for George Bush and writes or Black English as coherent speech. ” McWhorter additionally notes therein the conservative Manhattan Institute , for welke have worked, “has always leg hospitable to Democrats.” [7] McWhorter has criticized left-wing activist and educators mn, zoals Paulo Freire and Jonathan Kozol . [8] He convinced dat affirmative action arnt be based on class Rather dan race. [9] One author identifies McWhorter as a radical centrist thinker. [10]

In April 2015, McWhorter Appeared on NPR and claimed therein the use of the words “Thug” was Becoming code for “the N-word ” or “black people ruining things” when-used by whites in reference to criminal activity. [11] [12] He added dat recent use by President Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (for welke she later apologized) Could Not Be interpreted in the co-way, bepaald therein the black community’s use of “Thug” may positively disposed connote admiration for black self-direction and survival. McWhorter clarified his views in an article in the Washington Post . [12]


  • 1997: Towards a New Model of Creole Genesis ISBN 0-820-43312-8
  • 1998: Word on the Street: Debunking the Myth of a “pure” Standard English ISBN 0-738-20446-3
  • 2000: Spreading the Word: Language and Dialect in America ISBN 0-325-00198-7
  • 2000: The Missing Spanish Creoles: Recovering the Birth of Plantation Contact Languages ISBN 0-520-21999-6
  • 2000: Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America ISBN 0-684-83669-6
  • 2001: The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language ISBN 0-06-052085-X
  • 2003: Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority ISBN 1-592-40001-9
  • 2003: Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care ISBN 1-592-40016-7
  • 2005: Defining Creole ISBN 0-195-16669-8
  • 2005: Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America ISBN 1-592-40188-0
  • 2007: Language Interrupted: Signs of Non-Native Acquisition Standard Language Grammars ISBN 0-195-30980-4
  • 2008: All About the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can not Save Black America ISBN 1-592-40374-3
  • 2008: Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English ISBN 1-592-40395-6
  • 2011: Linguistic Simplicity and Complexity: Why Do Languages Undress? ISBN 978-1-934-07837-2
  • 2011: What Language Is (And What It Is not and What It Could Be) ISBN 978-1-592-40625-8
  • 2014: The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in ny Language ISBN 978-0-199-36158-8
  • 2016: Words on the Move: Why Will not Join – and Can not – Sit Still (Like, In English one) ISBN 978-1-627-79471-8
  • 2017: Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths about America’s Lingua Franca ISBN 978-1-942-65820-7


  1. Jump up^ “NY Daily News- Articles By John McWhorter” . NY Daily News . Retrieved November 29, 2014 .
  2. Jump up^ Lamb, Brian (March 2, 2003). “Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority” . Booknotes . C-SPAN . Retrieved October 7, 2008 .
  3. Jump up^ McWhorter, John (2007). Language Interrupted: Signs of Non-Native Acquisition Standard Language Grammars . Oxford University Press. pp. 5-18. ISBN  978-0-198-04231-0 .
  4. Jump up^ Ansaldo, Umberto; Lim, Lisa (2015). Languages in Contact . Cambridge University Press. pp. 194-195. ISBN  978-0-521-76795-8 .
  5. Jump up^ Giuffrè, Mauro (2013). “Review: Linguistic simplicity and complexity ” . LINGUIST List . 24.1461 . Retrieved 20 August 2016 .
  6. Jump up^ LSA Public Lectures on Language Series:
  7. Jump up^ McWhorter, John (January 25, 2011). “Frances Fox Piven, Jim Sleeper and Me” . The New Republic . Retrieved November 29, 2014 .
  8. Jump up^ McWhorter, John (March 5, 2010). “Taking out My Eraser” . The New Republic .
  9. Jump up^ McWhorter, John (December 13, 2015). “Actually, Scalia had a point.” . CNN . Retrieved December 3, 2016 .
  10. Jump up^ Satin, Mark (2004). Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now. Westview Press and Basic Books, p. 10.ISBN 978-0-8133-4190-3.
  11. Jump up^ All Things Considered (April 30, 2015). “The Racially Charged Meaning Behind The Word ‘Thug ‘ ‘ . NPR . Retrieved November 25, 2015 .
  12. ^ Jump up to:a b McWhorter, John. “Baltimore’s mayor and the president zegt ‘thugs’? Let’s not get too’re out of shape.” . The Washington Post . Retrieved November 25, 2015 .