Friday, June 19, 2009

The English Language’s 1,000,000th Word

Believe it or not, our current English language already has one million words. Is the end of additional words in sight?

By: Vanessa Uy

By June 12, 2009, the number of words in the English language has finally reached one million words. Which is kind of surprising – at least from my perspective. Given that this still living offspring of Latin, the language of top bards and storytellers William Shakespeare and Mark Twain, has been growing at a fever pitch since the Golden Age of Queen Elizabeth I would have reached a million words long ago. Despite tenured linguists and academics official stance on the matter is that a new word is “officially” added to the English language roster every 98 minutes or so. The question now is what is the one-millionth word to be officially enlisted in our official English language roster?

Sadly it wasn’t one of those four-letter expletives uttered by the now infamous ethically embattled former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevic. Which can be a relief if you are a parent of a very verbose teenager. Surprisingly, the one-millionth-word entry in the English language is Web 2.0. Which for all intents and purposes is America's contribution to the already burgeoning roster of the official list of English words.

Web 2.0? I too was surprised. I thought that Web 2.0 was already an “official” entry into the English language roster – make that the Queen’s English – sometime between You Tube’s Lonely Girl 15 became a household name to every Internet savvy citizen or “Nettizen” around the world. Or was it when the number of people who earned more than 1,000 US dollars a month just by surfing on the Internet reached 1 million. Even in the UK – the home bastion of the Queen’s English – has been very enthusiastic over Web 2.0 becoming an official one-millionth-word entry into the roster of the English language, despite of Web 2.0 sounding too American from the vantagepoint of the Francophone world.

Too bad noob – which means a computer gaming novice – didn’t become the English language’s one-millionth word. Which – in the 21st Century – those words will most likely be computer or Internet related. Although from my perspective Web 2.0 is a lot better than sexting – i.e. sending “naughty” electronic messages. Or octomom (another newly recognized english word of American origin) – which has since become a news item since this California mom gave birth to octuplets. Serving as a rather cognitive dissonant contrast to the logic of the state of California’s Proposition 8 in our current Web 2.0 world. Let's just hope that if William Shakespeare or Mark Twain is currently exploring the web - especially on overtly-opinionated English language blogs - they won't have any trouble understanding the 21st Century incarnation of their "Mother Tongue".

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