Peter Sokolowski is a lexicographer. Currently, he is an editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster and an adjunct professor at Amherst College. Sokolowski is also a freelance musician and has often appeared as a guest host on New England Public Radio's "Jazz Beat." Sokolowski received his M.A. in French from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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 our full interview with Sokolowski. It's about half again as long as the version that aired in Episode 4 of Pardon Me. It has been lightly edited for clarity but not for time or content. GUEST:  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 Email us your questions at Pardon Me is a production of The Colin McEnroe Show on Connecticut Public Radio.Support the show:
Merriam-Webster editors Peter Sokolowski and Emily Brewster talk about the words of 2018.
For the first time in history online technologies have made it possible to see, in real time, how people are using their digital dictionaries. Peter Sokolowski, a lexicographer at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, discusses the usage patterns of America's iconic dictionary to illustrate how politics, media and language intersect in our daily lives. The meeting was recorded on 2 October 2018 at the Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw. We are grateful to the US Embassy for helping to make this event happen, and to our own Dr. Justyna Włodarczyk for organizing the visit. 
We all have those words. The ones you hesitate to say because you've only ever seen them written (which have a large overlap with the ones you realize you've been using wrong for your entire life). Where do you go to be enlightened? To the dictionary, of course. Merriam-Webster editor-in-chief Peter Sokolowski says the data from those lookups can move words onto a list of ones to watch - a status recently achieved by "thirst trap."
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8 hours, 44 minutes