English nearing 1,000,000 words?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Feb 20 15:47:16 UTC 2008

At 7:20 AM -0800 2/20/08, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>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:
>>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 )

It may be worth noting that at least at Yale, the algorithm in
question must be altered to:
>plug the number above for X in:

When I try ...archives/3998.html, for example, I get a "URL not
found" or "access forbidden" message, and that happens even when I
try to go directly to ...archives/.   But ...archives/003998.html
works like a charm.  Go know.  (For a moment there, I was afraid I'd
never know who Goropius Becanus was, but now all is crystal-clear.)


>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).

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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