December 30, 2019

Isn’t She Still Dead?

Terry Gross’s Fresh Air has been broadcasting reruns of notable interviews during the holidays. At the end of today’s program, Gross announced a forthcoming interview “with the late Joan Rivers.”

Really? I doubt the late Joan Rivers is giving many interviews these days, having died in 2014.

Gross’s intent was to inform listeners of the upcoming interview and to indicate, for anyone who may not know or remember, that Joan Rivers is no longer with us. It turns out to be difficult to concisely communicate these two ideas clearly and precisely.

Some would be inclined to speak of an interview “with Joan Rivers before she died.” But surely—assuming you know something about Rivers—the interview was not done after she died.

I think the only simple way of saying what needed to be said without insulting anyone’s intelligence would require a bit more information and would be something like “an interview with Joan Rivers conducted two years [or whatever time period is appropriate] before her death.

How about it, Terry?

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