We are very fortunate to have first rate linguists at the University of Michigan outside of our own Department. One of these linguists is Anne Curzan, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English. In addition to her English appointment, Anne also holds appointments in the Shool of Education and in the Department of Linguistics. Anne is one of that rare breed of academics who not only does first rate research, but also communicates very successfully to the broader public about linguistics and language. Anne, for instance, has a regular segment about language called That's what they say on Michigan Radio. She also writes a regular column called Talking about words for Michigan Today.

As another example of how Anne combines her research and outreach activities, she recently presented a seminar at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. The seminar, titled "You Said, I Said: How Conversations Work", was attended by more than 130 people. The description of her seminar, as advertised on the Smithsonian's website, is included below.


You Said, I Said: How Conversations Work

Talk, talk, talk. Text, text, text. We’re in conversations all day long. Sometimes the stakes of those conversations are high: We’re trying to impress or get a favor or perhaps apologize successfully. How can we better make ourselves heard in our day-to-day exchanges? And how can we be a more effective listener?

This lively program led by linguist Anne Curzan examines the details of conversational dynamics, from how to build rapport through your words to how to prepare someone for “no,” and from the trickiness of giving and getting compliments to effective strategies for good dinner party conversation. Along the way, explore the question of whether men and women speak differently: Do we miscommunicate because we’re from different planets—or is there another reason?

You will leave this seminar with a heightened awareness of how we use everyday talk to get things done along with practical tips from Curzan for navigating conversations at work, home, out on the town, and online.