A surprise superquick talk from wordnik Erin McKean, who reads from her magic notebook the top 10 words of this TED. The full list follows; here are four highlights: tokamak, a doughnut-shaped fusion reactor whose name comes from a transliteration of the Russian токамак. rockism, which Mark Ronson describes as “like racism, but for rock music.” […]Continue reading
Why you should listen
Erin McKean's job as a lexicographer involves living in a constant state of research. She searches high and low -- from books to blogs, newspapers to cocktail parties -- for new words, new meanings for old words, or signs that old words have fallen out of use. In June of this year she involved us all in the search by launching Wordnik, an online dictionary that houses all the traditionally accepted words and definitions, but also asks users to contribute new words and new uses for old words. Wordnik pulls real-time examples of word usage from Twitter, image representations from Flickr along with many more non-traditional, and highly useful, features.
Before Wordnik, McKean was one of the youngest editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary . She continues to serve as the editor of the language quarterly Verbatim ("language and linguistics for the layperson since 1974") and is 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: McKean is the keen observationalist behind A Dress a Day and Dictionary Evangelist. Is there anything she can't do? Surprisingly, she is notoriously bad at Scrabble.
What others say
"Ms. McKean is part of the next wave of top lexicographers who have already or may soon take over guardianship of the nation's language, and who disprove Samuel Johnson's definition of a lexicographer as 'a harmless drudge.'" — The New York Times
Erin McKean’s TED talks
Today, Erin McKean realized the idea that forms the base of her 2007 TED Talk with the launch of Wordnik.com, a dictionary that evolves as language does. On Wordnik, users can add new words and meanings, tag words with related expressions, see real-time search results for words from Twitter and Flickr, discover how many Scrabble points […]Continue reading
To celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day, we suggest these four TEDTalks gems from some amazing speakers — artists, scientists and economists who think deeply about the role of women. Author and activist Isabel Allende discusses women, creativity, feminism — and the power of passionate thinkers and doers: The former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi […]Continue reading