Reading Summaries

“What Makes A Word Real?”

Have you ever sat down and wondered how words came to be, or how words such as brother suddenly become abbreviated into bro? In a TED Talk titled What Makes a Word “Real” by Anne Curzan, she discusses how the meaning of words have changed overtime due to various social influences. She argues how people use a word in different contexts adjusts its definition, and that people just make new words to compensate for new innovations in society. For example, some popular words she uses include “defriend” and “hangry.” Furthermore, she points out that none of these “slang” words are in the modern day dictionaries, despite their popular usage. Curzan then goes on and asks the audience why we do not question the context within the dictionary, as we are taught to question all resources in an academic context. Most people do not realize that the dictionary has authors, and that it does not just appear out of thin air. In sum then, Curzan’s TED Talk forces the audience to be more attentive of the words they use, and that it does not take a dictionary to make a word real.

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