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Professor John McWhorter, Ph.D.

Professor John McWhorter
  • Columbia University
  • Stanford University
Far from being a language in decline, we have reason to believe that English, with all its beauty and quirks and illogicities, will be carried far into the future.
Dr. John McWhorter is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He previously was Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his B.A. from Rutgers University, his M.A. from New York University, and his Ph.D. in Linguistics from Stanford University. Professor McWhorter specializes in language change and language contact. He is the author of The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language; The Word on the Street, a book on dialects and Black English; and Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music in America and Why We Should, Like, Care. A Contributing Editor at The New Republic, he has also been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Time, and The New Yorker. Frequently sought after by the media, Professor McWhorter has appeared on Dateline NBC, Politically Incorrect, Talk of the Nation, Today, Good Morning America, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, Up with Chris Hayes, and Fresh Air.

"Dr. McWhorter is one of the best lecturers I have seen or heard He makes a subject that I have no previous experience with come alive."


"Wow! Great professor. What a great panorama he paints. He sweeps you right through the entire history of humankind in a very illuminating and understandable journey."


"Dr. Mcwhorter caught my interest and attention on the first lecture and never lost it. His depth of knowledge and charming style of presentation made me look forward to listening to more."

5 Courses

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5 Courses

  1. Language A to Z

    Language A to Z

    John McWhorter, Ph.D.
    Starting at $89.95 Starting at $89.95 $134.95 $89.95$134.95
    There’s a lot that’s quirky and intriguing about how human language works—and much of it is downright fun to learn about. Here’s a delightful way to get accessible, bite-sized introductions to language in Language A to Z. These twenty-four 15-minute lectures by Professor John McWhorter, one of the best-known popularizers of language, use the English alphabet as a unique, offbeat way to let you hopscotch...
  2. Story of Human Language

    Story of Human Language

    John McWhorter, Ph.D.
    Starting at $199.95 Starting at $199.95 $374.95 $199.95$374.95
    Dr. John McWhorter, one of America's leading linguists and a frequent commentator on network television and National Public Radio, takes you on a fascinating, 36-lecture tour of the development of human language—he unfolds the story of how a single tongue spoken 150,000 years ago may have evolved into the estimated 6,000 languages used worldwide today. Discover why, for the past century, linguistics has been...
  3. Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language Sale

    Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language

    John McWhorter, Ph.D.
    Save up to $275.00 Starting at $84.95 $99.95 $84.95$99.95
    Journey through the fascinating terrain of linguistics: the scientific study of human language. In this exciting 36-lecture course taught by acclaimed linguist and Professor John McWhorter, investigate the elements and purposes of language, from its fundamental building blocks to its uses as a nuanced social tool. Among the many aspects and issues of language you explore are the basic sounds from which human...
  4. Special Collection - 36 Big Ideas Collection

    Special Collection - 36 Big Ideas

    John McWhorter, Ph.D.
    Starting at $199.95 Starting at $199.95 $269.95 $199.95$269.95
    The Great Courses has introduced millions of lifelong learners to some of the biggest ideas out there. Enjoy a collection of 36 lectures specially curated from some of our most popular courses and get a fresh learning experience in a wide range of disciplines. Religious writings that may have been forged; a universal template of world myths; the science of tasting colors—Join us for an intriguing tour of big ideas!
  5. Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage

    Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage

    John McWhorter, Ph.D.
    Starting at $129.95 Starting at $129.95 $254.95 $129.95$254.95
    In Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage, acclaimed linguist and Professor John McWhorter dispels the cloud of confusion that clings to English and gives you a crystal-clear view of why we use it the way we do. Throughout these 24 lectures, you'll discover the true answers to these and other questions that continue to perplex us all: Is English, as a language, in crisis? Should grammar always be logical?...