Before you watch

Mark Forsyth is a British writer of non-fiction who came to prominence with a series of books concerning the meaning and etymology of English words.

While you watch

Identify the message of the talk.

While watching, pay attention to the following words and expressions in context. Use them in your answers to the questions below and discussion.

humble/ meager/ pathetic


temporary measure




After you watch

Answer the questions:

  1. What is Brass Crosby remarkable for?
  2. Why did the debate over a new title for the US leader last for such a long time? What was the main point of disagreement between the Senate and the House of Representatives?
  3. What three conclusions does Mark Forsyth draw from the historical evolution of the word “president”?

Discuss in pairs: Mark Forsyth says that “politicians try to pick words and use words to shape reality and control reality”. Expand on this statement. Do you agree that words can serve as a tool to manipulate public opinion?