Curzan had me (and the audience) laughing and gasping with her discussion of dictionaries, word usage, and how words have changed meaning over time.
Ever heard of multi-slacking? It’s when you have multiple windows open on your computer screen to give the appearance you’re working, when you’re actually playing around on the web.
Did you know “nice” used to mean silly? The word “decimate” used to mean to kill one person in every ten.
Her talk brought back memories of my own fascination with words and their usage. When I was in third grade, I would spend hours reading the dictionary (my parents had no idea how to handle that). My grade school friends and I created a set of words we used to carry on conversations, much to the frustration of our teachers.
In high school and college, I took linguistics classes and studied both German and Spanish so I could learn more about the origin of words.
And my love for how words are used hasn’t ended. I’m an avid reader and continue to research the meanings of words.
So how does a word get into the dictionary? Curzan explained,
It gets in because we use it. And we keep using it.
We decide what words mean.
Are you surprised by how words we hadn’t heard of ten years ago (hangry) are now part of our language?
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