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Dr. Joanne Meier

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Some words about words

April 29, 2013

You're probably familiar with TED talks, the 6-18 minute talks gathered under the tagline of "Ideas worth spreading." All TED talks are free to view, and are searchable by topic. There are many thought-provoking talks on a wide variety of topics.

TED playlists were a new concept to me. As the name suggests, talks on similar topics are gathered together to form a playlist. One playlist is called Words, Words, Words, and it contains talks on several topics related to words. Perfect for Sound It Out readers!

For me, one highlight on Words, Words, Words is a talk given by linguist John McWhorter called "Txting is killing language. JK." In his talk, McWhorter encourages us to think about email and text messaging not as the "scourge" of the English language, but rather a new form of language between writing and talking. In describing speech in relation to writing, he says this: If humanity existed for 24 hours, then writing only came along at about 11:09 PM. Interesting way to think about our writing development!

Want to learn about dictionaries while laughing and learning a few new words (like erinaceous)? Check out another highlight, lexicographer Erin McKean. Ms. McKean encourages us to use words we love, and to remember that words are tools to build something bigger and more beautiful.

And, if you need just a little more about words, did you read the excitement about 'slash' last week? It's big news! Slash is a new-ish slang word that is different from many other types of slang words. "The emergence of a new conjunction/conjunctive adverb (let alone one stemming from a punctuation mark) is like a rare-bird sighting in the world of linguistics: an innovation in the slang of young people embedding itself as a function word in the language." Slash is clearly a word to watch.

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"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl