Wanna Achieve Linguistic Immortality? Not So Fast Cautions Animated NPR Video

Have you ever dreamed of becom­ing a word? NPR’s Adam Cole has, and he’s writ­ten a song about the immor­tal­i­ty that comes from hav­ing your name turned into a noun. But as his col­league Robert Krul­wich points out, many of the peo­ple whose names are now in dic­tio­nar­ies would be hor­ri­fied. Joseph Guil­lo­tine, for exam­ple, hat­ed the death penal­ty. And James Thomas Bru­denell, sev­enth earl of Cardi­gan, must be turn­ing over in his grave: “Here’s a brave cav­al­ry offi­cer, who led the Charge of the Light Brigade dur­ing the Crimean War, watched his men cut down, butchered by the ene­my, a man of action, a sol­dier, and what do we remem­ber him for,” writes Krul­wich on his blog? “Yup, by some trick of fate, he is now a sweater with but­tons down the front. I mean, real­ly…”

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