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  • I need to start by telling you a little bit

    首先,我必須先告訴你們一些

  • about my social life,

    有關我社交生活的事

  • which I know may not seem relevant,

    我知道說這些看似無關

  • but it is.

    不過其實是相關的

  • When people meet me at parties

    當人們在派對上遇見我時

  • and they find out that I'm an English professor

    他們發現我是位英語系教授

  • who specializes in language,

    專攻語言

  • they generally have one of two reactions.

    他們通常有兩種反應

  • One set of people look frightened. (Laughter)

    一種人面露驚恐 (笑聲)

  • They often say something like,

    他們通常會說

  • "Oh, I'd better be careful what I say.

    喔,我最好小心說話

  • I'm sure you'll hear every mistake I make."

    我肯定你會聽出來我犯的每個錯誤

  • And then they stop talking. (Laughter)

    然後他們就不說話了 (笑聲)

  • And they wait for me to go away

    然後他們等著我離開

  • and talk to someone else.

    並跟其他人交談

  • The other set of people,

    另一種人

  • their eyes light up,

    他們眼睛閃閃發亮

  • and they say,

    他們會說

  • "You are just the person I want to talk to."

    你正是我想交談的對象

  • And then they tell me about whatever it is

    然後他們告訴我任何

  • they think is going wrong with the English language.

    他們認為英語出錯的地方

  • (Laughter)

    (笑聲)

  • A couple of weeks ago, I was at a dinner party

    幾週前,我參加一個晚宴

  • and the man to my right

    然後在我右方的一位男士

  • started telling me about all the ways

    開始告訴我所有

  • that the Internet is degrading the English language.

    網路正讓英語降格的事

  • He brought up Facebook, and he said,

    他提到臉書,然後他說

  • "To defriend? I mean, is that even a real word?"

    去defriend?我的意思是,連那也算是真的單字嗎?

  • I want to pause on that question:

    我想停在這問題上:

  • What makes a word real?

    是什麼因素讓一個單字成真?

  • My dinner companion and I both know

    我的晚餐夥伴和我都知道

  • what the verb "defriend" means,

    "defriend"這個動詞的意思

  • so when does a new word like "defriend"

    因此曾幾何時,一個如同defriend這樣的新單字

  • become real?

    變成真的單字呢?

  • Who has the authority to make those kinds

    究竟是誰有權做出這種

  • of official decisions about words, anyway?

    有關於單字的決定呢?

  • Those are the questions I want to talk about today.

    這些是我今天想談談的問題

  • I think most people, when they say a word isn't real,

    我認為大部分的人,當他們說一個單字不是真的

  • what they mean is, it doesn't appear

    他們的意思是,這個單字並沒有出現在

  • in a standard dictionary.

    正統字典裡

  • That, of course, raises a host of other questions,

    當然,這件事提出更多其他的問題

  • including, who writes dictionaries?

    包括,是誰撰寫字典呢?

  • Before I go any further,

    在我更進一步闡述前

  • let me clarify my role in all of this.

    讓我澄清我在這事件裡的角色

  • I do not write dictionaries.

    我並不撰寫字典

  • I do, however, collect new words

    不過,我會蒐集新單字

  • much the way dictionary editors do,

    就像是字典編輯群所做的事一樣

  • and the great thing about being a historian

    而身為英語史學家

  • of the English language

    最棒的事

  • is that I get to call this "research."

    就是我可以把這稱作「研究」

  • When I teach the history of the English language,

    當我教英語史的時候

  • I require that students teach me

    我要求學生在課堂開始前教我

  • two new slang words before I will begin class.

    兩個新的俚語單字

  • Over the years, I have learned

    這幾年來,以這樣的方式我已學到

  • some great new slang this way,

    某些很棒的新俚語

  • including "hangry," which --

    包括"hangry",也就是 --

  • (Applause) —

    (鼓掌) —

  • which is when you are cranky or angry

    也就是你暴躁或生氣

  • because you are hungry,

    是因為你餓了

  • and "adorkable,"

    還有"adorkable"

  • which is when you are adorable

    就是形容你很可愛

  • in kind of a dorky way,

    但有點傻傻的感覺

  • clearly, terrific words that fill

    很明顯地,這些很棒的單字能填補

  • important gaps in the English language.

    英語的不足

  • (Laughter)

    (笑聲)

  • But how real are they

    但這些單字又有多真實

  • if we use them primarily as slang

    若我們以俚語為主使用這些單字

  • and they don't yet appear in a dictionary?

    而這些單字尚未收錄在字典裡?

  • With that, let's turn to dictionaries.

    因此,讓我們來談談字典

  • I'm going to do this as a show of hands:

    我打算讓各位舉手表決

  • How many of you still regularly

    你們有多少人還常常

  • refer to a dictionary, either print or online?

    查字典,不論是紙本或是線上的?

  • Okay, so that looks like most of you.

    好,看來是大部分的人

  • Now, a second question. Again, a show of hands:

    現在,第二個問題。再一次舉手表決:

  • How many of you have ever looked to see

    你們有多少人曾查過

  • who edited the dictionary you are using?

    是誰編輯你使用的字典?

  • Okay, many fewer.

    好,少了很多人

  • At some level, we know that there are human hands

    某種程度上來說,我們知道字典的背後

  • behind dictionaries,

    有人手編輯

  • but we're really not sure who those hands belong to.

    但我們真的不確定這些人手是誰

  • I'm actually fascinated by this.

    我對此深感著迷

  • Even the most critical people out there

    就算是外面最常批評的人

  • tend not to be very critical about dictionaries,

    也不會批評字典

  • not distinguishing among them

    不會區別字典好壞

  • and not asking a whole lot of questions

    也不會問很多

  • about who edited them.

    是誰編輯字典的問題

  • Just think about the phrase

    只要想想看這句話

  • "Look it up in the dictionary,"

    「去查字典」

  • which suggests that all dictionaries

    這句話顯示所有的字典

  • are exactly the same.

    完全一樣

  • Consider the library here on campus,

    想想在校園裡的圖書館

  • where you go into the reading room,

    你進到閱覽室

  • and there is a large, unabridged dictionary

    在那有一大本未經刪減的字典

  • up on a pedestal in this place of honor and respect

    就放在既光榮又令人尊敬的臺座上

  • lying open so we can go stand before it

    翻開靜躺在那,好讓我們站在它前方

  • to get answers.

    獲得解答

  • Now, don't get me wrong,

    現在,別誤會我的意思

  • dictionaries are fantastic resources,

    這些字典是絕佳的資源

  • but they are human

    但這些字典畢竟是人造的

  • and they are not timeless.

    而它們絕非永恆

  • I'm struck as a teacher

    身為人師,我非常震撼

  • that we tell students to critically question

    我們告訴學生要批判質疑

  • every text they read, every website they visit,

    所讀到的每個文本,每個瀏覽的網站

  • except dictionaries,

    字典除外

  • which we tend to treat as un-authored,

    我們常以為字典沒有作者

  • as if they came from nowhere to give us answers

    就好像它們不曉得打哪兒來給我們

  • about what words really mean.

    關於單字真正定義的答案

  • Here's the thing: If you ask dictionary editors,

    重點來了:若你去問字典編輯群

  • what they'll tell you

    他們會告訴你

  • is they're just trying to keep up with us

    他們只是努力

  • as we change the language.

    跟上正在改變語言的我們

  • They're watching what we say and what we write

    他們正在觀察我們說什麼和寫什麼

  • and trying to figure out what's going to stick

    然後努力搞清楚哪些單字會留下來

  • and what's not going to stick.

    和哪些單字不會留下來

  • They have to gamble,

    他們必須要賭

  • because they want to appear cutting edge

    因為他們想要顯得新潮

  • and catch the words that are going to make it,

    然後去捕捉能創新潮的單字

  • such as LOL,

    像是LOL

  • but they don't want to appear faddish

    但他們不想顯得為了趕流行

  • and include the words that aren't going to make it,

    然後去收錄不能趕流行的單字

  • and I think a word that they're watching right now

    而我認為他們現正觀察的一個單字

  • is YOLO, you only live once.

    就是YOLO,你只活一遍

  • Now I get to hang out with dictionary editors,

    現在我能和字典編輯群一起相處

  • and you might be surprised

    你可能會

  • by one of the places where we hang out.

    對我們去的其中一個地方感到驚訝

  • Every January, we go

    每年一月,我們會去

  • to the American Dialect Society annual meeting,

    美國方言學會年度會議

  • where among other things,

    在那邊除了其他事情以外

  • we vote on the word of the year.

    我們投票表決年度風雲單字

  • There are about 200 or 300 people who come,

    大約有兩三百人來

  • some of the best known linguists in the United States.

    有些是美國知名的語言學家

  • To give you a sense of the flavor of the meeting,

    為了讓你了解這個會議的氣氛和味道

  • it occurs right before happy hour.

    這個會議在餐點半價的歡樂時光前舉辦

  • Anyone who comes can vote.

    任何參與的人都能投票

  • The most important rule is

    最重要的規則是

  • that you can vote with only one hand.

    你只能單手投票

  • In the past, some of the winners have been

    過去,有些年度風雲單字冠軍曾是

  • "tweet" in 2009

    2009年的「推文」(tweet)

  • and "hashtag" in 2012.

    和2012年的「關鍵字標記」(hashtag)

  • "Chad" was the word of the year in the year 2000,

    「屑屑」(Chad) (打孔機從選票上打掉的小紙片)為2000年度風雲單字。

  • because who knew what a chad was before 2000,

    因為在2000年以前誰知道「屑屑」(Chad) 是什麼

  • and "WMD" in 2002.

    和2002年的「大規模毀滅性武器」(WMD)

  • Now, we have other categories in which we vote too,

    現在,我們也在其他類別進行投票

  • and my favorite category

    而我最喜歡的類別

  • is most creative word of the year.

    就是年度最有創意單字

  • Past winners in this category have included

    以前這個類別的冠軍得主包括

  • "recombobulation area,"

    「整裝區」

  • which is at the Milwaukee Airport after security,

    就是在密爾瓦基機場安檢後

  • where you can recombobulate.

    有一處讓你可以重新整理行李衣著

  • (Laughter)

    (笑聲)

  • You can put your belt back on,

    你可以繫回皮帶

  • put your computer back in your bag.

    將你的電腦放回包包

  • And then my all-time favorite word at this vote,

    然後在這次投票當中,我最喜歡的單字

  • which is "multi-slacking."

    是「同時多重懈怠」

  • (Laughter)

    (笑聲)

  • And multi-slacking is the act

    「同時多重懈怠」的行為是

  • of having multiple windows up on your screen

    在你的螢幕裡打開很多視窗

  • so it looks like you're working

    所以這看起來像是你一直在工作

  • when you're actually goofing around on the web.

    不過其實你不務正業在上網

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

    (笑聲) (鼓掌)

  • Will all of these words stick? Absolutely not.

    這些單字都會留下來嗎?絕對不會

  • And we have made some questionable choices,

    我們也做出許多令人質疑的選擇

  • for example in 2006

    例如在2006年時

  • when the word of the year was "Plutoed,"

    年度風雲單字是「被冥王星了」(Plutoed)

  • to mean demoted.

    意思是被降級

  • (Laughter)

    (笑聲)

  • But some of the past winners

    但有些以前的冠軍得主

  • now seem completely unremarkable,

    現在看似完全不值得注意

  • such as "app"

    像是「應用程式」(app)

  • and "e" as a prefix,

    和當作字首的"e"

  • and "google" as a verb.

    還有作為動詞的"google"

  • Now, a few weeks before our vote,

    在我們投票幾週前

  • Lake Superior State University

    大湖州立大學