Wednesday 10 June 2009


I'm not sure what that word is, but at 10:22 am (Stratford-on Avon Time) today, the English language will, apparently acquire its one millionth word.

Yes, seriously, it will, Will!

I have this on the (possibly) good authority of The Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas - although that in itself may come as something of a surprise to those of you were unaware that they actually speak English in Texas!

Anyway, according to Paul J J Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor, "The Million Word milestone brings to notice the coming of age of English as the first, truly global Language."

One proof of this is, says Mr Payack, is the fact that 14.7 new English words are being minted every day. How anyone manages to dream up .7 of a word I've no idea - as to how they do it on a daily basis is utterly beyond me! Maybe they've been counting all those word verifications that get so deftly defined on this blog!

Anyway, you can read all about it here.


Here are the fourteen runners-up for the one millionth English word, all of which "have met the criteria of a minimum of 25,000 citations with the necessary breadth of geographic distribution, and depth of citations."

999,999: Jai Ho! – The Hindi phrase signifying the joy of victory, used as an exclamation, sometimes rendered as “It is accomplished”. Achieved English-language popularity through the multiple Academy Award Winning film, “Slumdog Millionaire”.

999,998: N00b — From the Gamer Community, a neophyte in playing a particular game; used as a disparaging term.

999,997: Slumdog – a formerly disparaging, now often endearing, comment upon those residing in the slums of India.

999,996: Cloud Computing – The ‘cloud’ has been technical jargon for the Internet for many years. It is now passing into more general usage.

999,995: Carbon Neutral — One of the many phrases relating to the effort to stem Climate Change.

999,994: Slow Food — Food other than the fast-food variety hopefully produced locally (locavores).

999,993: Octomom – The media phenomenon relating to the travails of the mother of the octuplets.

999,992: Greenwashing – Re-branding an old, often inferior, product as environmentally friendly.

999,991: Sexting – Sending email (or text messages) with sexual content.

999,990: Shovel Ready – Projects are ready to begin immediately upon the release of federal stimulus funds.

999,989: Defriend – Social networking terminology for cutting the connection with a formal friend.

999,988: Chengguan – Urban management officers, a cross between mayors, sheriff, and city managers.

999,987: Recessionista – Fashion conscious who use the global economic restructuring to their financial benefit.

999,986: Zombie Banks – Banks that would be dead if not for government intervention and cash infusion.

After some of those - especially 'Sexting', 'Greenwashing' and 'Defriend', the millionth word comes as a bit of a disappointment...

1,000,000: Web 2.0 – The next generation of web products and services, coming soon to a browser near you.

But that's not just a word, it's a word - and a number! So, if you'll pardon the pun, go figure...

At the risk of getting tedious, I can reveal that the 1,000,00-and-1st word(s) is/are Financial Tsunami – The global financial restructuring that seemingly swept out of nowhere, wiping out trillions of dollars of assets, in a matter of months.

In the words of Master O Twist & Co: "Was it the worth waiting for...?"

I think not!


Suzanne said...

I'm not that surprised actually Brian. When you hear youngsters speak today, some of their "vocabulary" (for want for a better word...) ends up in our current language; and then you've got "text lingo" which is all Greek to me! When I text I use entire words, not those incomprehensible shorties, which means that when I text it takes me a long time, but as Treebeard says "we Ents only take the time to say something if it is worth taking a long time to say it" (or something along those lines!)
suadja: a text lingo shortie whose meaning still has to be clarified (this could be the subject of a new competition, Brian!)

Brian Sibley said...

Excellent competition idea! We will do it!! By the way, I am also a very slow texter - despite the fact that (thanks to Gill) I've finally learnt about predictive texting.

SharonM said...

Financial Tsunami - but that's two words, both already in the dictionary.

Do they allow composites, like appallified or atrocific?

Brian Sibley said...

You're right, it's all tosh!

scb said...

Poor dear Will must be turning over in his grave.

As Sharon pointed out, the "winner" of the coveted spot (coveted among words everywhere) is actually TWO words, neither of which is new. (Why can't the Texans teach their children how to count?) I'm sure there are many disheartened New Words crying into their tea/coffee/beverage of their choice today, muttering "why couldn't it have been me?"

ROMYLE: (pronounced RAH-mih-lee, not ROW-mile, as the plebes would have it) A rather ostentatious simile for a romantic act, used in poetic sexting.

Jen said...

Urban Dictionary is worth a browse & you can add your own definitions- maybe a way of using those blog verifications?!
They've just passed the 4,000.000 submission.

SCHABLY-fake wine sold at street markets

Brian Sibley said...

SCB - Glad to see you are obviously up to speed on the sexting front!

JEN - Thanks, I will certainly be bookmarking Urban Dictionary. As for the 'Schably': it's really not a bad drop of stuff and goes down pretty good with a Big Mac and fries!

SharonM said...

Not that you're eating Big Macs and fries these days!

Brian Sibley said...

Well, only to get rid of the taste of cheap schably!

Good Dog said...

"Web 2.0".... that's a bit disappointing. This wasn't the result of a telephone vote was it?

I would have gone for "Greenwashing" because it's one word for a start. And it appeals to my "optimist with experience" streak.

Brian Sibley said...

Maybe, if it was a telephone vote Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got all their staff to ring in...

Boll Weavil said...

I agree with Sharon M. These things are just re-interpretations of existing words made up by people with no work to do - big thrills.Let them visit THIS site if they dare. We'll show them REAL words.
UNTAGGL : Dismantling of silly phrases by real people.He he ! (readers voice)

Brian Sibley said...

With all the new words coined on this blog, I don't know why it hasn't gone viral!

Chris said...

Yes, we speak English in Texas. However, if you were to go to deep EAST Texas you might need some translation to decipher the accent. ( one of many local jokes ex: A Texas State trooper pulled over a pickup on I-20.
The trooper asked, "Got any ID?"
The driver replied, "Bout whut?")
Jokes aside, the Web 2.0 choice is already being called a fraud by linguists and some college professors

Brian Sibley said...

CHRIS - Great joke! No doubting Texans as having a sense of humour.

And you're right about the condemnation by academics of the choice of Web 2.0.

Here's one press item I picked up:

...Linguists, however, denounced the list as pure publicity and unscientific, saying it was impossible to count English words in use or to agree on how many times a word must be used before it is officially accepted.

There are no set rules for such a count as there is no certified arbiter of what constitutes a legitimate English word and classifying the language is complicated by the number of compound words, verbs and obsolete terms.

"I think it's pure fraud ... It's not bad science. It's nonsense," Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, told reporters.