LIVE from NYPL, Treasures: Words that Move Me: Josh Gondelman, Danielle Ofri, Black Thought, and Ammon Shea

Date and Time
October 5, 2021
Event Details
Accessibility Notes:
- A live transcript will be provided. Media will be accompanied by alt text to reference before the program or by audio description.
- ASL interpretation is available upon request. Please submit your request at least two weeks in advance: email or use this Gmail template.

From beloved songs to unforgettable headlines, from great speeches to hilarious jokes, and beyond, what are the words that move you?

Socially distanced and meeting across Zooms, sometimes all we can share with each other are our words. Words have arguably revealed a greater power than ever to inspire us, to mislead us, to shape us, and even to destroy us. Activists and entertainers deliver slogans to rally against injustice; pundits feed us terms that fuel our political divisions and; health professionals continue searching for stable language to educate the public about COVID-19. The words and phrases of the last few years have left a lasting impression on us all and continue to shape our experiences of the world and each other. 

Merriam-Webster editor Ammon Shea leads a panel to discuss the words that have moved them the most, diving into the history and evolution of these inspired words. 

This event is produced in partnership with Merriam-Webster.

Presented as part of The Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library's Treasures, which showcases some of the most extraordinary items from the 56 million in our collections. Among them is Noah Webster's "Blue Back" speller, a spelling book from 1783 that sought to transform the way Americans were taught to speak and write English. The event will begin with a short talk given by Michael Inman, NYPL Curator of Rare Books, on some of the inventive spellings put forth by Webster and the encoded ideals of the American Revolution within the rare book. 

To learn more about Treasures, please visit the exhibition website

The program will be streamed live on this page. If you encounter any issues, please join us on NYPL's YouTube channel.



Ammon Shea suggests these titles for further reading:

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Ammon Shea is an editor at Merriam-Webster, where he writes articles on usage and grammar and researches the earliest uses of words. Prior to working for Merriam-Webster he wrote books on the history of language peeves, reading the Oxford English Dictionary, and social history of the telephone book. A native of New York, Ammon lives there still, with his wife (a former lexicographer), son (a future lexicographer), and an assortment of non-lexical dogs. 

Danielle Ofri MD, PhD is one of the foremost voices in the medical world today, a physician at Bellevue Hospital and a clinical professor of medicine at NYU. She is editor-in-chief of Bellevue Literary Review, and her writing appears in The New Yorker, The New York Times, as well as in The Lancet, and NEJM. She's given TED talks as well as performed at The Moth. Ofri is the author of six books about life in medicine. Her newest book is When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error. 

Josh Gondelman is an Emmy-winning writer and comedian based in New York City. He currently writes and produces for Desus & Mero on Showtime, and he previously wrote for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Josh also appears regularly on the NPR news quiz show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and does standup basically wherever. His debut essay collection Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results is available now.

Black Thought is the co-founder and lead MC/singer of The Legendary Roots Crew.




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LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the support of Library patrons and friends, as well as by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.

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