Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Evolution of the English Language

Here are some great observations on the English language:
the English language, which currently stands at about 999,500 words, will pass the 'million word' mark on or about June 10, according to the Global Language Monitor (GLM). The latest words under consideration: defollow, defriend, greenwashing, chiconomics and noob.

In William Shakespeare's day, according to GLM president and chief word analyst Paul JJ Payack, there were only 2 million speakers of English and fewer than 100,000 words. Shakespeare himself coined some 1,700 words.

Thomas Jefferson invented about 200 words, and former President George W. Bush created a handful, the most prominent 'misunderestimate.' President Obama's surname passed into wordhood last year with the rise of 'obamamania.'

There are three momentous trends occurring in the English language today,' says Mr. Payak. 'First, this is an explosion in word creation -- English words are being added to the language at the rate of some 14.7 words a day. The last time words were being added to the language at this rate was during Shakespeare's time.

'Second, a geographic explosion has taken place where some 1.53 billion people now speak English around the globe as a primary, auxiliary or business language. And, three, English has become, in fact, the first truly global language. Never before has a single language had the extent and influence as that of English.'

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