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

  • When a word leaves you "gobsmacked"
    Unless you decided to completely avoid the internet in 2009, there's a good chance you've seen Susan Boyle’s first round performance on Britain’s Got Talent. The Scottish singer’s rendition …
  • Historical events don't have to be historic
    Many would agree that all historic events are historical. But there's some dispute over whether all historical events are historic. This week's topic comes from a listener named Cyndi who sa …
  • If the proof is in the pudding, it's going to get sticky
    Have you ever peeled the lid off a pudding cup, looked inside and said, “Aha, the proof is right here.” Unless you were trying to prove that the cup really did contain pudding, we’re going to assume t …
  • Is it okay to "whinge" on this side of the pond?
    The Brits have a way of talking about whining that we might want to import. The word is “whinge,” and a listener named Addeane recently asked us about it: “Both ['whinge' and 'whine …
  • Some of us just have a knack for collecting knick-knacks
    If you have a box filled with items of the "what am I ever going to do with this" variety, we suggest the purchase of a knick-knack shelf. A knick-knack shelf is the perfect place for a figu …