lunes, 2 de agosto de 2010
The word's out for lexicologists and it doesn't get more exciting than this.
And even if you dont consider yourself a wordsmith, an event predicted for 10.22am on June 10 is still historically momentous.
Unless youre an ugsome noob
That is when, according to the Global Language Monitor, the one millionth word will be added to the English language.
This milestone will mean that English has twice as many words as Cantonese, the worlds second most dense language.
It also dwarfs the French total of about 100,000 and Spanishs 250,000.
Even so, most of us will use only a tiny fraction of them the average persons vocabulary is fewer than 14,000 words, or 1.4 per cent of the total. And even the most linguistically gifted use only around 70,000 words.
You dont say.
For a new word to enter the English language officially, it must be understood by 100 million people and appear at least 25,000 times in the mainstream global media, on social networking sites and in other sources.
At the current pace, a new word is created every 98 minutes.
Among the terms which could take English to the one million mark are defollowand defriend words describing what users of online social networks Twitter and Facebook do to contacts they dont want to stay in touch with.
Another contender is noob, a derogatory name for someone new to a particular task or community.
Paul Payack, chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor (GLM), a Texas-based linguistic consultancy, says:
Language boils up from the people and we see this by the assimilation of words from hip-hop, Hollywood and Bollywood.
English is the global language. It is understood by 25 per cent of people on the planet. More people know English in China than they do in the Commonwealth.
David Crystal, a linguistics expert at Bangor University, agrees that English is unique among languages in the way it has evolved.
I dont think any other language has had so many influences upon it as English, says Prof Crystal. It started a thousand years ago with the
Anglo Saxons, then along came the French in 1066 bringing in their own words, then a couple of hundred years later the Renaissance and the Empire brought words from all over.
For instance, take the words kingly, royal and regal. Kingly is Anglo-Saxon, royal is French and regal is Latin. They all mean the same thing but they are each used in different ways.
The industrial revolution also made English the language of science, and if you look at the Oxford English Dictionary, 80 per cent of the words relate to science, technology and physics. In the 19th and 20th centuries, English-speaking countries have been responsible for most of the worlds new inventions and technology, which have caused an explosion of new words.
When Shakespeare was writing his plays there were just two million English speakers and he had fewer than 100,000 words to choose from. Today 1.53 billion people are anglophones.
Mr Payack says: People went from thinking English was going to fade away because the Empire was dead and other languages were in the ascendant. But they didnt understand that the new technology and entertainment media were always based on English.
You cant have the internet without English, you cant fly a Boeing or an Airbus aeroplane without English. Thats just the way it goes.
TAKE IT AS READ
Of all the words in the English language, set has the most definitions.
The longest word in English, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis a chronic lung disease caused by the inhalation of fine silicate or quartz dust.
The second longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary is floccinaucinihilipilification or the estimation of something as worthless.
Almost is the longest word in English with its letters in alphabetical order.
E is the most used letter of the alphabet, accounting for one in every eight in written English.
No words rhyme with orange, silver, purple or month.
Rhythm and syzygy (an alignment of three celestial bodies) are the longest English words without a vowel.
The only 15-letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
The combination ough can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.
The word robot was created by Czech playwright Karel Capek. It came from the Czecho-Slovak robotovat, which means to work very hard.
Avocado is derived from the Spanish word aguacate, which is derived from ahuacatl meaning testicle.
The youngest letters in the English alphabet are J, V and W.
The oldest word is town.
There is a seven-letter word in the English language that contains 10 words without rearranging any of its letters therein: the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.