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

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Jul 9 18:31:55 UTC 2008

On Jul 9, 2008, at 11:08 AM, Dennis Baron wrote:

> good point, Arnold. However any "publicity" I afforded Payack pales
> before the newspaper articles that reported his claims over the past
> week (check the links in the post-- there are many more, as you will
> see in lexis/nexis)

yes, Payack is a genius at getting newspapers and magazines and npr
and blogs to reproduce his preposterous claims.  he seems to come
around about once a year -- just infrequently enough so that he can
start a fresh buzz each time.  your publicity for him is indeed tiny
in comparison to this other coverage.  i'm sorry, though, that you
didn't make it clear that the current media blitz is just one in a
series going back some years, and i'm sorry that you treated GLM as if
it were a dictionary.  (yourDictionary.com is a red herring in the

> -- i hoped in a small way to rebut the million-word claim impact by
> satirizing his efforts.

again, there's a long history of rebuttals.  one of ben zimmer's, on
Language Log ("986,120 words for snow job", 2/6/06, #2809 in Language
Log Classic), has its satirical edge.

>  btw, i hope no one got the impression that i actually think English
> has too many words for its own good. far from it.

well, i don't think anyone here on ADS-L got that impression.  i'm not
sure about other Web of Language readers, but then i don't know what
your readership is like.


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