Wednesday, June 10

New 'words' in the English language are stupid

So the Global Language Monitor just announced that the number of words in the English language exceeded 1 million this morning at 10:22am. Since it's 11am right now, most people would incorrectly deduce that I was awaiting this event with bated breath. Well, actually the millionth word was added according to Stratford-on Avon Time so I'm about 5 hours behind and slightly less of a loser.

Anyway, I think some of the new words are ridiculous. The millionth word is actually 'web 2.0' meaning "
The next generation of web products and services, coming soon to a browser near you". Firstly, isn't that a word and a number? And secondly do we really need to add such a silly word to our vocabulary.

The stupidity doesn't end here. Some of the words that lost out by not becoming the millionth word are:
Jai Ho!, N00b, Slumdog, Cloud Computing, Carbon Neutral, Slow Food, Octomom etc.

You get the idea. Some of these words are slang, some are movie titles, and some are words in an another language. Now of course I understand that many words like veranda, chutney, kama sutra, actually originate in foreign languages, but that process took decades. In fact, a large majority of native English speakers know these words and use them in every day language. I obviously don't agree that the majority should know the word before it is officially incorporated (and by no means is the Global Language Monitor official), but there needs to be a lower limit as well. Where a certain proportion of the population needs to understand the meaning. After all, the only thing "Jai ho!" has going for it, is a Pussycat Dolls remix.

I'm not alone in finding this silly. According to their website, a number of linguists disagree with putting a number on words in a language...
Linguists believe that there is no way to count words, since the nature of what a word is, itself, is in dispute. Hence you cannot count what you cannot define. More so, even attempting to take a measure of the language is to be condemned.
Well, I'm certainly no linguist or expert in the matter, but I'm interested to see what my friends in linguistics think about this...