Anna Curzan Questions “What Makes a Word ‘Real’?”


By Maryann Yin Comment

Do you consider “hangry” to be a genuine English word?

Anne Curzan, an English professor and language historian, gave a talk (embedded above) at a TEDx conference on “What makes a word ‘real’?” During her presentation, she mentioned several slang words including “defriend,” “adorkable,” and “YOLO.”

Here’s an excerpt from her talk: “So how does a word get into a dictionary? It gets in because we use it and we keep using it, and dictionary editors are paying attention to us. If you’re thinking, ‘But that lets all of us decide what words mean,’ I would say, ‘Yes it does, and it always has.'”