one millionth english word

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

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.

That's from the Independent.

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?

The Economist sums it up:

is the 1m-word claim meaningless? Yes, largely.