English nearing 1,000,000 words?

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Feb 20 15:20:48 UTC 2008

On Feb 20, 2008, at 6:25 AM, Barbara Need wrote:

> On the front page of today's Chicago Tribune is an article about Paul
> Payack's (Global Language Monitor) "calculation" that English will
> soon have 1,000,000 words. Here is the link to the on-line version:
> http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-
> million_words_swansonfeb20,1,1211245.story. The author contacted
> Allan Metcalf and Jesse Sheidlower (hyphenated in the paper version
> between the i and the d!). My first response was, but what
> constitutes a word!

we've been writing about Payack on Language Log for years: prominently
   #2809, 3012, 3015, 3871, 3986, 4009, and 4189

(to get the actual link, plug the number above for X in:
   http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/X.html )

several of these discuss the word-counting problem and/or have
pointers to such discussions.

Payack was a finalist in the LLog competition for the Becky, the
"prestigious Goropius Becanus Prize, awarded to people or
organizations who have made outstanding contributions to linguistic
misinformation" (see #3998).


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