Anne CurzanTEDTalksGives Talk

Anne Curzan

Mar 2014

Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan and a historian of the English language, gives a talk on what makes a word “real” and who has the authority to make modern slang words “real” in the English language. As the language continues to evolve, Curzan explains how modern words are taken and placed into the dictionary as a “real” word.

Dictionaries are a wonderful guide and resource, but there is no objective dictionary authority out there that is the final arbiter about what words mean. If a community of speakers is using a word and knows what it means, it’s real. That word might be slangy, that word might be informal, that word might be a word that you think is illogical or unnecessary, but that word that we’re using, that word is real.

Anne Curzan: What makes a word "real"?

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