The Power of the Dictionary

Susan Butler

TEDxSydney 2015 · 21 May 2015

Dictionary editor Susan Butler follows the changing language, documenting it as objectively as possible. There are those who want the dictionary to censor aspects of language that they deem to be unsavoury or undesirable. But language moves on. Today we strive to have every word that has currency fully recorded. When people look up a word in the dictionary, it tells them if their choice lines up with the choice of the general community. The dictionary has the power that springs from this kind of safety-in-numbers authority. More importantly it has the power to make the language variety visible to the community that uses it, which is why we all feel we have so much invested in it.

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