English language nears 1 million word milestone.


Blackleaf
#1
The English language is about to reach the 1 million word milestone, according to the estimates by some experts.

Although other people say different things.

BRITISH English (maybe not American English, which may have a smaller vocabulary) uses SIX TIMES as many words as French (if you believe those people who say English uses "only" 600,000 words rather than almost a million) as French uses only 100,000 words - compared with 125,000 for Russian, 200,000 for German, 225,000 for Spanish and 600,000 - 1,000,000 for English.
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English language nears the one million-word milestone
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Published: 13 April 2006

It will not be of much comfort to President George Bush and others who, on occasion, struggle to make themselves understood. But some time soon the English language, according to at least one reasonably authoritative source, will create its one-millionth word.

The Global Language Monitor (GLM), a San Diego-based linguistic consultancy, reckoned that on 21 March (the vernal equinox) this year, there were about 988,968 words in the language, "plus or minus a handful". At the current rate of progress, the one-million mark will be reached this summer.

And how does the GLM know? It started, it says, with a base vocabulary drawn from major dictionaries that contain the historic core of the language. Then it created its own algorithm, or formula, called the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), that measures the language as found in print, electronic media, and on television and radio. That establishes a rate of increase in the creation of new words, and the import and absorption of foreign words into English.

No one argues about the huge richness of the English language - fed by Germanic, Scandinavian and Latin streams, unrivalled in its readiness to borrow from every language, and mercifully free of tiresome bodies like the Academié Française to decide what counts and what does not.

The process is only reinforced by the universality of English. True, more people (more than a billion) may be native speakers of Mandarin Chinese than of English (an estimated 500 million or so, roughly the same as Hindi). French, incidentally, only limps into the top 10 with 130 million native speakers.

But if there is such a thing as a world language, it is English, spread first by the British Empire, then by the economic, cultural and military juggernaut of the US, and now by the internet. And, at every stop on the way, new words are coined, or scooped up from other languages.

But how many and how fast? The GLM claims that its projected figures are conservative - and in fact some estimates put the total of English words at two million or more. The devil lies in definition: what constitutes a new word? Does slang count? And what about archaisms and obsolete words? Another study, the Life and Times of the English Language, by Robert Claiborne and published in 1990, puts the number of words at no more than 600,000. The latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains more than 300,000 head words, and some 615,000 "word forms," that include the head words, plus combinations and derivatives. By contrast, Websters Third International Dictionary has 54,000 word families - base words, inflections and derivations.

But no one should feel intimidated. The average vocabulary of an educated native English speaker is about 24,000 to 30,000. Shakespeare used 24,000 words - 1,700 of which he is claimed to have invented.

Nonetheless, with an active vocabulary of just 3,000 or so, you can get along pretty well. And if you are stumped for a word, just make one up. It seems to have worked in the past for the most powerful man in the world, so it could work for you as well. The chances are, it will soon be swept up in the boundless net of the Global Language Monitor. You never know, it might even be the coveted number 1,000,000.

Comparing languages

* Up to 20 per cent of the words used by Global Language Monitor come from hybrids such as Chinglish and Japlish. Words from Chinglish include the business terms "drinktea", meaning closed, and "torunbusiness", meaning open. Bushisms such as "uninalienable" and 'misunderestimate' are included.

* English is evolving faster than other languages. This year's additions to the Oxford English Dictionary include "podcast" and "offshoring".

* Spanish linguists say there are 225,000 words in contemporary use.

* The largest edition of the Duden German-German dictionary contains about 200,000 words

* The Russian language has just reached the 125,000 mark.

* French has 100,000 words, one-sixth of the figure used in the UK. But the Academié Française, the body that defines the language, recognises only 25,525.


news.independent.co.uk . . .
 
Jay
#2
Thats because the English talk to much so they invent more and more words to keep their chattering mouths further occupied.
 
Finder
#3
Not to mention words which already have words to describe what you are saying. Also when you take into account slang words from local vinacular which are brought into the lexicon of modern english, and not disenfranchising the obsolete and the obscure.
 
Machjo
#4
Most of all those words are dialect (i.e. words which mean the same bloody thing but used in different parts and either totally not understood or misunderstood due to a different meaning in other parts) or synonyms (tired, fatigued; mountain lion, cougar, puma; sweet popato, yam; highway, freeway, expressway, motorway; tofu, bean curd; wasabe, Japanese horse raddish; sofa, divan, couch; Evangel, Gospel; salutation, greeting; glory, splendor; maize, corn; China, Cathay; airplane, aeroplane; space ship, space craft; typhoon in the East, hurricane in the West; tsunami, tidal wave). All useless redundancies.
 
Finder
#5
Machjo, my friend who is over in China teaching english (he didn't know a lick of Chiness before he went). Says the main problem with the Chiness is they are to conservative about there language and will not add new symbols (can't remember the name for those things) to their vinacular
 

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