linguistics

How the rapid evolution of words affects us with language historian Anne Curzan

How the rapid evolution of words affects us with language historian Anne Curzan

Language used to evolve slowly back when we were far-flung. Wide-spread human contact was made through one civilization taking over another. That’s drastically different, today. New words can take over the planet literally in minutes. While that speed is incredible, it’s even more so when you stop and think about the fact that new words and analogies are little shift our points of view— gay vs same-sex, criminals vs justice-involved, murder vs honor-killing. While new words flow like rapids, filling new spaces or displacing old ideas, and as English becomes a global platform— our human experience is shaped and reshaped within even within our own lifetime.  Anne Curzan studies the history of English, the evolution of slang and it’s migration over time. She’s the author of several books on language including her latest, “Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History” as well as co-hosting “That’s What They Say” on Michigan’s NPR.