English vocab poised to hit 1m words

Dictionary swelling by one neologism every 98 minutes


The English language is poised to reach the 1m word mark at 10.22am on 10 June, with "noob", "greenwashing" and "defriend" among the neologisms vying to be the one millionth addition to our burgeoning vocab.

That's according to the Global Language Monitor, which acknowledges a new term once it's clocked up 25,000 deployments in the media, social networking sites, and other hotbeds of linguistic creation - currently contributing a newbie every 98 minutes.

The Global Language Monitor actually predicted our beloved mother lingo would pass the 1m milestone back in 2006, but despite Asian speakers of English as a second language contributing to the most prolific epoch of word creation since the days of Bill Shakespeare, it's taken a tad longer than predicted.

However, the expansion of the English lexicon won't mean much in practice for the average punter. The Global Language Monitor's chief analyst, Paul Payack, explained: "Despite having a million words at our disposal it is unlikely that we will ever use more than just a tiny fraction of them.

"The average persons vocabulary is fewer than 14,000 words out of these million that are available. A person who is linguistically gifted would only use 70,000 words."

Indeed, El Reg's backroom boys this morning ran an vocabulary algorithm on our entire archive, revealing that the average Vulture Central hack is able to conjure up 23,474 distinct words, of which 7.3 per cent involve swearing and, in the case of the Bootnotes department, an additional 13 per cent are sexual euphemisms.

Our Strategy Boutique, meanwhile, managed just 15,034 words*, largely comprised (66 per cent of the total) of terms such as "rebaselining", "coterminosity" and, natch, "whalesong". It has, though, by our reckoning contributed no less than 1,285 totally meaningless neologisms to the English gene pool since beginning its Monday brainstorming power brunches back in 2007. ®

Bootnote

*Between all of 'em, sadly.


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