# A million English words, or only 600,000? Either way, it's a language packed with more words than you'll ever need

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 9 14:29:20 UTC 2008

```One person said there are 2 billion English words.  Another said 1 million.  That's a difference factor of 2,000.   That's like looking at a tree and one person estimating it's 1 inch tall, while the other estimates it's 2000 inches tall (170 feet). Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL5+See truespel.com - and the 4 truespel books plus "Occasional Poems" at authorhouse.com. > Date: Wed, 9 Jul 2008 08:43:39 -0400> From: Berson at ATT.NET> Subject: Re: A million English words, or only 600,000? Either way, it's a language packed with more words than you'll ever need> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>> Poster: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>> Subject: Re: A million English words, or only 600,000? Either way, it's a> language packed with more words than you'll ever need> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------> > Dennis, please check your computation for the 1590s. 10,000 words per> year is about 27 per hour, so there was a neologism more frequently> than every 60 minutes. You apparently computed words per hour, and> then multiplied by minutes per hour, giving a meaningless scale of> words X minutes / hours squared, when you wanted minutes / words.> > For minutes per word, divide a year's minutes by 10,000: 365 X 24 X> 60 / 10,000 = 52.56, or for the precision with which the 10,000 is> measured, 56 minutes per word.> > And one could point out how much more linguistic the 1590s were by> dividing the times per word by the number of English speakers in the> two periods.> > Joel> > At 7/8/2008 10:53 PM, Dennis Baron wrote:> >Paul Payack, professional word-counter and the founder of> >YourDictionary.com, claims that someone coins an English word every 98> >minutes, which seems pretty fast until we consider that during the> >word-coining frenzy of the 1590s, when the pace of life was slower,> >about 10,000 new words popped up every year. If Shakespeare and his> >contemporaries never slept, that comes to a neologism every 68 minutes> >(neologism, a word, coined in France in the 1730s and borrowed by> >English in the 1770s, meaning 'a new word').> > ------------------------------------------------------------> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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