A website writer has claimed that the English language now has one million words. Paul Payack is the chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor, which accepts as a word any coinage that enjoys sufficiently wide usage.
According to website writer Mr. Paypack, the one millionth English word is – appropriately enough – “Web 2.0”. Its official definition is “the next generation of web products and services, coming soon to a browser near you”.
Other recent words to enter the lexicon of the Global Language Monitor include hybrid words in Chinglish (Chinese English), Hinglish (Hindi English), and Spanglish (Spanish English), as well as Hollywords (terms created by the film industry), computer jargon and words created by website writers.
Not all sources agree with the GLM’s definition of a word. The Oxford English Dictionary, as of 2005, contained only 301,100 main entries. Even when combination words, derivatives and phrases are included, the total is still just 616,500 word-forms.
This hasn’t put off website writer Paypack, however. “The Million Word milestone brings to notice the coming of age of English as the first truly global language,” he said.
Mr Payack estimates that new words are entering the language at the rate of 14.7 words every day. The explosion in website writing has revived the possibilities for independent word-coinage in a way last seen in Shakespeare’s time, when English was modernising and words were being invented at an unprecedented rate. Shakespeare himself used 24,000 words, of which approximately 1,700 were his own inventions.
Mr Payack and his team of website writers use what they call a Predictive Quantities Indicator to assess whether a usage qualifies as a word: each contender is analysed according to depth (number of citations) and breadth (geographic extent of word usage). The formula also takes account of how many times a word has appeared in the global print and electronic media, the Internet, blogs, and social media such as Twitter and YouTube. Words must be cited at least 25,000 times to qualify.
Three other words almost beat “Web 2.0” to the one million mark: “slumdog” (made popular by the film Slumdog Millionaire), meaning a child slum dweller; “Jai Ho!” a Hinglish expression signifying a major accomplishment; and “n00b”, a mixture of letters and zeros which is a mocking term for an online gamer newbie.