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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.
Testimonials

"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."

31 Courses and Sets

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31 Courses and Sets

  1. Language A to Z Sale

    Language A to Z

    John McWhorter
    Save up to $110.00 Starting at $19.95 $24.95 $19.95$24.95
    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
    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
    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

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    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 Sale

    Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage

    John McWhorter
    Save up to $185.00 Starting at $34.95 $69.95 $34.95$69.95
    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?...
  6. (Set)  Writing and Civilization & Understanding Linguistics Set

    (Set) Writing and Civilization & Understanding Linguistics

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $534.90 Starting at $534.90 $629.90 $534.90$629.90
  7. (Set) The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins & Story of Human Language   Set

    (Set) The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins & Story of Human Language

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $399.90 Starting at $399.90 $749.90 $399.90$749.90
    Dig up the fascinating story behind the development of English and other world languages in this two-course set delivered by a pair of top linguists. First, The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins offers a delightfully informative survey of English, from its Germanic origins to the rise of globalization and cyber-communications. Then, The Story of Human Language reveals how a single tongue spoken...
  8. (Set) Story of Human Language & Building Great Sentences Set

    (Set) Story of Human Language & Building Great Sentences

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $329.90 Starting at $329.90 $629.90 $329.90$629.90
    Use the power of language to become a better writer with these two courses delivered by expert writers, speakers, and professors. First, in The Story of Human Language, chart the exciting development of human language from a single tongue to the estimated 6,000 languages in use around the world today. Then, in Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft, get unique insights into the nature of great...
  9. (Set) Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language & History of the English Language, 2nd Edition  Set

    (Set) Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language & History of the English Language, 2nd Edition

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $639.90 Starting at $639.90 $749.90 $639.90$749.90
    Learn more than you ever imagined about the most powerful language in our 21st-century world with this two-course set that reveals the fascinating inner workings of English. Start with Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language, an exciting 36-lecture journey through the elements and purposes of language, from its fundamental building blocks to its uses as a nuanced social tool. Then round out your...
  10. (Set)  Myths of Language Usage & History of the English Langua Set

    (Set) Myths of Language Usage & History of the English Langua

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $329.90 Starting at $329.90 $629.90 $329.90$629.90
  11. (Set) Peoples and Cultures of the World & Story of Human Language  Set

    (Set) Peoples and Cultures of the World & Story of Human Language

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $329.90 Starting at $329.90 $629.90 $329.90$629.90
  12. (Set)  Language A to Z & History of the English Language Set

    (Set) Language A to Z & History of the English Language

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $289.90 Starting at $289.90 $404.90 $289.90$404.90
  13. (Set) History of the English Language & Story of Human Language  Set

    (Set) History of the English Language & Story of Human Language

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $399.90 Starting at $399.90 $749.90 $399.90$749.90
    Improve your understanding of the origins of the English language and the world's diversity of tongues. The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition explores a wealth of fascinating issues, including the effect of recent phenomena such as text messaging, hip hop, and e-mail on how English works. The Story of Human Language investigates the origins and evolutions of different languages, why there isn't a single...
  14. (Set) Latin 101: Learning a Classical Language & Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language  Set

    (Set) Latin 101: Learning a Classical Language & Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $639.90 Starting at $639.90 $749.90 $639.90$749.90
    Latin is alive! In this two-course set, you’ll learn the language and see its effects in languages around the world. In Latin 101, Professor Mueller speaks Latin using the restored classical pronunciation, which melodiously approximates the way Latin was spoken in antiquity. How is the capacity for language hard-wired into the human brain and what rules apply to the world’s 6,000 mother tongues?...
  15. (Set) Language A to Z & Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage  Set

    (Set) Language A to Z & Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage

    John McWhorter
    Starting at $219.90 Starting at $219.90 $314.90 $219.90$314.90
  16. (Set)  Myths of Language Usage & Building Great Sentences Set

    (Set) Myths of Language Usage & Building Great Sentences

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $259.90 Starting at $259.90 $509.90 $259.90$509.90
  17. (Set) Story of Human Language & Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning  Set

    (Set) Story of Human Language & Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $329.90 Starting at $329.90 $629.90 $329.90$629.90
    Expand your understanding of human language and the ways you can use it to effectively argue your beliefs. The Story of Human Language charts the exciting development of language from a single tongue to the estimated 6,000 languages used around the world today, while Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning, 2nd Edition teaches you how to reason, how to persuade others that what you think is right, and how to...
  18. (Set) Story of Human Language & Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations  Set

    (Set) Story of Human Language & Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $399.90 Starting at $399.90 $749.90 $399.90$749.90
    Travel back in time to the formative period of both human language and human civilization with this engrossing two-course set delivered by award-winning professors and experts. First, in The Story of Human Language, learn the fascinating story of the development of human language from a single tongue into the estimated 6,000 languages used around the world today. Then, in Human Prehistory and the First...
  19. (Set) Understanding Linguistics & The Story of Human Language  Set

    (Set) Understanding Linguistics & The Story of Human Language

    John McWhorter
    Starting at $639.90 Starting at $639.90 $749.90 $639.90$749.90
    Expand your understanding of how we use language in these two insightful courses taught by acclaimed linguist and award-winning Professor John McWhorter. The 36 lectures of Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language investigates the fundamental elements and purposes of language, from its basic building blocks to its uses as a nuanced social tool. Then, chart language's exciting 150,000-year development from...
  20. (Set) Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage & Story of Human Language  Set

    (Set) Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage & Story of Human Language

    John McWhorter
    Starting at $329.90 Starting at $329.90 $629.90 $329.90$629.90
    Discover why Professor John McWhorter is such an acclaimed linguist and one of our most popular professors with this engaging two-course set on the secrets of language. First, discover the true answers to questions about the English language that continue to perplex us all with Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage. Then, in The Story of Human Language, follow the dramatic story of how a single tongue...
  21. (Set) Language A to Z & Story of Human Language  Set

    (Set) Language A to Z & Story of Human Language

    John McWhorter
    Starting at $289.90 Starting at $289.90 $404.90 $289.90$404.90
    This two-course set will change the way you experience the spoken and written word. Track the development of human language from the single tongue spoken by our ancestors to the 6,000 languages used around the world today in The Story of Human Language. Once you’ve seen the remarkable ways that one language sheds light on another, gain eye-opening insights into English with Language A to Z.
  22. (Set) Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity & Story of Human Language  Set

    (Set) Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity & Story of Human Language

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $329.90 Starting at $329.90 $629.90 $329.90$629.90
    Take a fascinating tour through history to learn how written and spoken languages developed over thousands of years in this intriguing and enjoyable course set. First in Professor Marc Zender’s Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity, you explore how writing systems developed, the features they have in common, and how they were adopted and adapted by surrounding cultures. Then, in...
  23. (Set) The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins & Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage   Set

    (Set) The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins & Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $329.90 Starting at $329.90 $629.90 $329.90$629.90
    Is English, as a language, in crisis? Hear the informed opinion of two prominent linguists in this two-course set that reveals the remarkable story behind everyday words. First, The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins is a delightfully informative survey of English, from its Germanic origins to the rise of globalization and cyber-communications. Then, Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage...
  24. (Set) Story of Human Language & A Brief History of the World  Set

    (Set) Story of Human Language & A Brief History of the World

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $399.90 Starting at $399.90 $749.90 $399.90$749.90
    Expand your understanding of both human language and the epic scope of human history. The Story of Human Language charts the exciting development of language from a single tongue spoken 150,000 years ago to the estimated 6,000 languages used around the world today. A Brief History of the World explores the "big picture" of world history, from the invention of agriculture to the urbanized 21st century.
  25. (Set) Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language; History of the English Language, 2nd Edition; & Story of Human Language  Set

    (Set) Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language; History of the English Language, 2nd Edition; & Story of Human Language

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $959.85 Starting at $959.85 $1,124.85 $959.85$1,124.85
  26. (Set)  Myths of Language Usage & Understanding Linguistics Set

    (Set) Myths of Language Usage & Understanding Linguistics

    John McWhorter
    Starting at $534.90 Starting at $534.90 $629.90 $534.90$629.90
  27. (Set) Language A to Z & The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins  Set

    (Set) Language A to Z & The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $289.90 Starting at $289.90 $404.90 $289.90$404.90
    We know that once you experience our new course, Language A to Z, your appetite for extraordinary linguistic facts will have grown. Why wait to slake your mind’s hunger? Pair Language A to Z with The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins for a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the familiar words and phrases we use every day.
  28. (Set) Language and Society & Story of Human Language Set

    (Set) Language and Society & Story of Human Language

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $349.90 Starting at $349.90 $644.90 $349.90$644.90
    Explore the history and importance of language in this set. First, see how the words that you speak influence the way that you are perceived in society. Then, follow the amazing story of human language.
  29. (Set) Building a Better Vocabulary & Language A to Z Set

    (Set) Building a Better Vocabulary & Language A to Z

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $309.90 Starting at $309.90 $419.90 $309.90$419.90
    Experience the joy of the English language with this set. In Building a Better Vocabulary, explore dozens of new words and deepen your knowledge of familiar words. Then, in Language A to Z, join an acclaimed linguist on a journey through fascinating stories about our language.
  30. (Set) 36 Big Ideas & The Joy of Ancient History Set

    (Set) 36 Big Ideas & The Joy of Ancient History

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $399.90 Starting at $399.90 $539.90 $399.90$539.90
    Learn something new and exciting with this set of collections courses. Begin by exploring 36 ideas – philosophy, science and more – that have changed the face of civilization. Then, dive into ancient history and hopscotch around the world and across time to experience the fascinating variety of what the past has to offer.