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This Erin McKean keynote is a lighthearted and entertaining discussion about the future of words and their traditional place in the constantly evolving dictionary. She is a full-time lexicographer that researches the origins of words and has recently become the CEO and co-founder of the interactive online dictionary Wordnik.
The dictionary has long been the beacon of what constitutes a ‘real’ word and what is socially acceptable for use in conversation. The speaker argues that due to the fast pace at which human speech patterns evolve, dictionaries struggle to keep up.
She argues that the classical book of words which is commonly used today is poised for a massive overhaul. Instead of referring to the dictionary as the holy grail of one’s vocabulary, she instead urges people to constantly strive to understand the way that language works and to find ways to be more expressive—without worrying about whether the dictionary deems that to be correct.