The Millionth English Word? Or Not?

Son Ron directed my interest to this CNN story, in which “Web 2.0” is identified via a complex computerized search to have become (just lately, mind you) the one millionth word to enter the English language.

There is no doubt among professional linguists or casual language historians (such as ourselves, yes?)  that English is unrivaled as the language with the richest,  most diverse, and largest culture of language in the world today.  And it has been so for a considerable length of time.

“What is a word?” is a question, however, that is not easily answered.  I would not, for example, consider “wardrobe malfunction” to be a word but rather a two-word phrase that became a popular term because of its widespread usage to describe a particularly unusual and controversial occurrence on a TV program reaching a very large audience.

Keep in mind as you review the CNN piece what linguists would usually agree a “word” to be.  Here is the definition of “word” from a well-regarded contemporary American English collegiate dictionary, one with which I would concur:  “A sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning and may consist of a single morpheme or a combination of morphemes.”  Doesn’t quite capture the principle, though, that it also must (or must it?) stand by itself as an expression with complete meaning. Thus “agri-” would not be considered a word nor would “American agriculture” but “agriculture” would.  Same with such an affix as”-ize.”

Have fun!

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/06/10/million.words/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

RJR

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6 Responses to “The Millionth English Word? Or Not?”

  1. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Well done, keep up the good work!

  2. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Thanks, Tammy! Hope your summer (vacation?) is going well. Regret to hear that Spring Lake may need to start its police force from scratch, if that is, in today’s economical times, even possible.

    RJR

  3. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Raymond,
    Thank you! That is kind of you. Yes, it has been rough here. Our first week of summer has flown by. Trying hard to clean and organize the house while also entertaining the little ones. So, not as much is getting done as I had hoped.
    How was your trip? Everything going well for you and yours?

  4. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Opps,
    Could you please send me your article from this week?

  5. Tammy Stephens Says:

    “Yes, it has been rough here.”
    Meant PD. We’ll get through.

    I wish you could edit your own comments on other blogs,lol!

  6. William Moore Says:

    Wow great job never new a word had so much definition to it thank you for the info….

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