Web 2.0 declared "millionth English word"

Written by Tim Smalley

June 11, 2009 // 2:55 p.m.

Tags: #dictionary #english #language #millionth #web-20 #word

Global Language Monitor, a US-based web monitoring firm, has declared that the millionth English word is Web 2.0, a term used to describe the latest generation of web products and services.

The firm searches the web for newly coined terms, and once a word or phrase has been used at least 25,000 times, it is recognised as a word.

GLM said Web 2.0 beat competition from terms such as Jai ho, n00b and slumdog to earn its title, but traditional dictionary makers have cast doubt over the claim and the firm's methodology.

The Texas-based company makes its money by telling organisations how often they are mentioned in new media, such as the Internet, and also tracks trends for new words and expressions.

Dictionary makers have much tighter criteria for recognising new words - they have to be used for a certain amount of time, for example.

Lexicographers claim that the exact size of the English vocabulary is "impossible to quantify" but said if every technical term or specialist word was accepted then we'd already be well beyond one million words. If specialist slang is restricted, its suggested that there are only approximately 750,000 words in the English language.

When you consider a fluent speaker will only use approximately 20 to 40,000 words and you can get by with just a few thousand, the size of the English vocabulary is a little immaterial anyway

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