Friday, May 01, 2009

A new word every 98 minutes

The English language is heading towards its millionth word, according to an organisation called the Global Language Monitor who say that a new word is created every 98 minutes. It's a hotly contested claim and one that top linguistics blog Language Log takes issue with. But whatever the pros and cons of this claim, there's not much doubt that our language is rapidly expanding. This edition of the BBC News Magazine has a good article about new words, our own personal vocabularies and recent claims that young people are suffering from "word poverty" and need a boot up the lexical arse.

One interesting point for A2 Language Change students is the question of when a word is actually a "proper" word. For example, do these new words count: Obamamania, noob and airline pulp? And what about d'oh and meh, or even teh and pwn? See this post for more on some of these terms and the million words "hoax".

Will they last and should they be entered into dictionaries, or are they just silly expressions that no one will remember in 20 years?

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