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TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator John McWhorter
  • Animator Lippy
  • Narrator John McWhorter


Additional Resources for you to Explore

Does texting mean the death of good writing skills? John McWhorter posits that there’s much more to texting -- linguistically, culturally -- than it seems, and it’s all good news.
All it takes is a simple S to make most English words plural. But it hasn't always worked that way (and there are, of course, exceptions). John McWhorter looks back to the good old days when English was newly split from German -- and books, names and eggs were beek, namen and eggru!
Here's an excerpt from an opinion article written by John McWhorter: "Linguists insist that it’s wrong to designate any kind of English 'proper' because language always changes and always has. A common objection is that even so, all people must know which forms of language are acceptable in the public sphere, at the peril of unemployability or, at least, social handicap."
When did Michael Jordan become "Air Jordan"? How did Earvin Johnson come to be known as "Magic"? Why is Juan Rodriguez called "Chi Chi"? These questions are answered in this major reference work featuring about 20,000 nicknames of professional athletes from around the world.