Immigration History

Tenement Talk: The People’s Tongue


What is American English, and what does the language tell us about who Americans are, were, and will be? Watch a live-streamed conversation on these questions debated over the course of almost 500 years.

Author and editor Ilan Stavans will discuss his anthology The People’s Tongue: Americans and the English Language, which draws on speeches, diaries, literature, poems, rap lyrics, tweets, and more to reflect on democracy, identity, and power. Stavans will be joined by linguist and New York Times columnist John McWhorter to discuss how American English has been transformed over the centuries by an increasingly diverse population.