Anne Curzan | Contributor, That’s What They Say

Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.

As an expert in the history of the English language, Anne describes herself as a fount of random linguistic information about how English works and how it got to be that way. She received the University’s Henry Russel Award for outstanding research and teaching in 2007, as well as the Faculty Recognition Award in 2009 and the 2012 John Dewey Award for undergraduate teaching.

Anne has published multiple books and dozens of articles on the history of the English language (from medieval to modern), language and gender, and pedagogy. Her newest book is Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History (2014). She has also created three audio/video courses for The Great Courses, including “The Secret Life of Words” and “English Grammar Boot Camp.”

When she is not tracking down new slang or other changes in the language, Anne can be found running around Ann Arbor, swimming in pools both indoor and out, and now doing yoga (in hopes that she can keep running for a few more years to come).

Contributions from Anne Curzan

  • TWTS: The trouble with "in-laws"
    Sometimes we get a language question that leads to another question. That question leads to another question, and before we know it, we’ve fallen down a language rabbit hole. A listener recently asked …
  • TWTS: "Curry favor" comes from a horse (of course, of course)
    Currying favor has everything to do with flattery and horses, and nothing to do with food. This expression, which means to seek or gain favor through flattery or to use flattery to gain a personal adv …
  • TWTS: Going on the lam? Don't use a lamb
    Most people would agree that a lamb would make a terrible escape vehicle. All that bleating would instantly give away even the stealthiest of fugitives. Fortunately, a spelling discrepancy clarifies t …
  • TWTS: Pondering pronunciation preferences
    We get a lot of questions about words that have two pronunciations. This week, we decided to look at two of those words: status and mischievous.
  • TWTS: Crummy nickname knockoffs
    What do knockoffs, nicknames and the word "crummy" have in common? The answer is not much, except that we've received listener questions about the origins of all three.