The David Crystal Lecture 2018

On Saturday 17 October 2018, CIOL welcomed Susie Dent to give the second David Crystal Lecture, held in conjunction with the University of Westminster and the Language Acts and Worldmaking  project of the AHRC Open World Research Initiative.

Susie Dent received the David Crystal Trophy for outstanding contribution in the field of languages, presented at the CIOL Awards Evening in November 2017.

The title of Susie’s lecture was: American English: How have we gotten here?

“I know words. I have the best words” - whatever we think about Donald Trump, most Britons would beg to differ with the belief that any American has the better form of English. Do words like movie, diarize or cookie raise your linguistic hackles?  Do you hate to hear someone ask if they can ‘get’ a coffee?

Susie Dent explored the national rivalries that inform our centuries-old antipathy towards American English, and related how many of our beliefs about its version of ‘our' language are rooted in misconception. She asked whether it’s finally time to embrace the verve of American vocabulary, and to put our gripes and notions of ‘correctness’ to bed.

This was the second David Crystal Lecture, CIOL’s public lecture given by the winner of the David Crystal Trophy, awarded for outstanding contribution to the field of languages. The inaugural lecture was given in 2017 by Dr Lid King who spoke on ‘The Language of Hate’.


Susie Dent is a writer and broadcaster on language, and recently celebrated 25 years as the resident word expert on Channel 4's Countdown, and also appears on the show's sister comedy 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. Susie has contributed to discussions on Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live programmes, and been a regular panellist on Radio 4’s Wordaholics.