Sunday, August 03, 2008

TED: Erin McKean Asks if the Dictionary is Doomed

Another fascinating and energizing talk from the folks at TED...

QUESTION: Is the beloved paper dictionary doomed to extinction?

In this infectiously exuberant talk, leading lexicographer Erin McKean looks at the many ways today's print dictionary is poised for transformation.

WHY SHOULD YOU LISTEN TO ERIN McKEAN? Much to Erin McKean's delight, her job as editor in chief of the Oxford American Dictionary involves living in a constant state of research. McKean searches high and low -- from books to blogs, newspapers to cocktail parties, The New Scientist to Entertainment Weekly -- for new words, new meanings for old words, or signs that once-favored terms have fallen out of use. ("Information Superhighway," anyone?) And it's clear that she relishes the hunt.

McKean is also the editor of the language quarterly Verbatim ("language and linguistics for the layperson since 1974") as well as the author of multiple books, including That's Amore and the entire Weird and Wonderful Words series. All that, and she maintains multiple blogs, too: Erin is the keen observationalist behind A Dress a Day and Dictionary Evangelist.

Thanks to my good friend Joe Germuska for turning me on to this particular talk...

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