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May 12, 2009 7:58 AM   Subscribe

A few weeks from now, English will have it's millionth word. Or will it? posted by Dumsnill (54 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aw, that's just a ploy to get the word to click the banner ad and claim its prize.
posted by Spatch at 8:00 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Put a wicked donk on it!
posted by Darned account name at 8:03 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just as long as it isn't "tweet".
posted by Joe Beese at 8:04 AM on May 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


Can we make the millionth word a properly used "its"?

</snark>
posted by bjrubble at 8:09 AM on May 12, 2009 [18 favorites]


I would very much like that.

(Sorry)
posted by Dumsnill at 8:12 AM on May 12, 2009


It's like the fucking Adventists.

Oh, and we already have the millionth word—assbutt. I used a proprietary algorithm to thumb through my OED while mumbling numbers to my self, then when I was at the end of it, I was at 999,995… "Uh… Solja-boy, blingnocity, juggalo, frontbutt, assbutt, one million!"
posted by klangklangston at 8:16 AM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Missing tag: cromulent
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


My money is on 'ruptoflex'.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:16 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


What makes something not a word? Cadaverous is a word for something that's like a cadaver but if I used the word blobous to describe a fatso people would totally get it (though as far as fake words go blobine sounds better). Daylight is a word, moonlight is a word, starlight is a word. But daylit isn't a word even though it obviously refers to something that is lit by daylight. Silvered yes, coppered yes, nickeled yes, cobalted no. You might say that silver and copper and nickel are all used often enough as a finish or coating to get a word for it but really if a writer used the word cobalted I would assume that it was a word and that would make it so. We have words and we have rules using these tools wordwrights and lexsmiths can fashion new words as easily as we can decorrugate cardboard.
posted by I Foody at 8:23 AM on May 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


I propose:

KETTLENESS (adj.)
The quality of not being able to pee while being watched.

Shamelessly stolen from The Meaning of Liff
posted by prufrock at 8:25 AM on May 12, 2009


I think blingnocity should be the millionth.
posted by flippant at 8:26 AM on May 12, 2009


It is millionth word?
posted by autodidact at 8:27 AM on May 12, 2009


"Spelorkeling"

It's a combination of snorkeling and spelunking. It's not a good idea.
posted by brundlefly at 8:28 AM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whatever the millionth word is, I expect to see the stars, one by one, twinkling out.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:31 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but while everybody is busy watching new words being created until we reach the one bullshitillion mark [ha! a new word right there], someone at the other end is deleting words... Even faster than they are being created. When you think you are at 1,000,000 you are in fact only at 999,495... and losing ground.
posted by Termite at 8:34 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


What makes something not a word?

If only this question was answered somewhere, like the original article....
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:38 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I volunteer "lolcat".
posted by grubi at 8:38 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Zombulent.

That is all.

Bitches.
posted by Mister_A at 8:46 AM on May 12, 2009


They've got it totally backwards!

We're not building a collection of words, we're crossing them off a giant list the first time they're written or spoken. How long will it take to cross them all off?

(hint: the list is pretty long)
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 8:50 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Zombulent.

Meaning to move in the manner of a zombie, to be moved BY zombies, or, like with "cromulent" , meaning "good example of zombieness or possessing the good qualities of a zombie" ?
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoa, I just read I Foody's intertext up there, and I think wordwright is just swelegant.
posted by Mister_A at 8:52 AM on May 12, 2009


A. Moving in the manner of a zombie.
B. Moved, motivated, or propelled by zombies.
C. Possessing the cardinal qualities of a zombie.
posted by Mister_A at 8:54 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I should point out that C is an archaic usage at this point, only used by people who have seen black-and-white zombie movies. Since that time, the identification of the "cardinal" qualities of a zombie has become increasingly disputatious, and the science of zombology balkanized.
posted by Mister_A at 8:57 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


When that milestone is achieved, I (as well) would like to offer my most enthusiastic contrafibularities....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 9:02 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


yet I only have a 287 word vocabulary. Gets job done.
posted by deliquescent at 9:05 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Meaning to move in the manner of a zombie, to be moved BY zombies, or, like with "cromulent" , meaning "good example of zombieness or possessing the good qualities of a zombie" ?"

Someone's never been to Zombo.com.
posted by klangklangston at 9:07 AM on May 12, 2009


"Uh… Solja-boy, blingnocity, juggalo, frontbutt, assbutt, one million!"

Kids these days. All we had was potatoes.
posted by rokusan at 9:11 AM on May 12, 2009


conzombienation - noun
1. the act of conzombienating a post by adding zombies into it no matter what the damn post was about in the first place.
posted by orme at 9:12 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, when asked this questions, I've seen linguists patiently spend the time talking about how we define words, and how we count them, and maybe what we define as English, etc etc.

I'm willing to go one further: it makes no sense, the question can't even be asked nevermind answered. We tend to think of 'words' in a fundamentally wrong way, and while it helps us get to grips with everyday language use and understanding, it makes questions like this one possible. The layered and contextual use of symbols in language makes the idea of discretely packaged meanings impossible. Words are an abitrary approximation to common usage, and if we wanted to cut the cake a different way, we might suddenly find ourselves with many more, or many less.

Though personally, I want the millionth word to be, transhalibutism, to adequately describe how we can go beyond our existential need for flatfish.
posted by Sova at 9:12 AM on May 12, 2009


Wait--no taters?
posted by applemeat at 9:15 AM on May 12, 2009


Paul Payack, chief analyst at the Global Language Monitor, said: "Despite having a million words at our disposal it is unlikely that we will ever use more than just a tiny fraction of them. The average persons vocabulary is fewer than 14,000 words out of these million that are available. A person who is linguistically gifted would only use 70,000 words."

I'm not sure I believe that at all. If the number of words we know is so low, surely we'd almost constantly be running into ones we didn't know. Unless we all just know the exact same 20,000 odd words
posted by dng at 9:22 AM on May 12, 2009


Well that's the thing, dng – most of us do know the same core set of words, especially within our little social silos (work, neighborhood, etc).
posted by Mister_A at 9:24 AM on May 12, 2009


qwigibo
posted by sexyrobot at 9:30 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Prufrock:

We already have a word for that. It's "parauresis".

/piddle pedantry
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:31 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


While I'm sorry to see this asshat get more publicity for his shameless self-promotion, I deeply appreciate your including the debunking links in the post (though personally I would have made them the main feature).

> I'm not sure I believe that at all.

You shouldn't believe anything that guy says.

> But daylit isn't a word even though it obviously refers to something that is lit by daylight.

Actually, it is. OED: "instrumental, as day-lit, day-wearied adjs."
posted by languagehat at 9:33 AM on May 12, 2009


I'm not sure I believe that at all. If the number of words we know is so low, surely we'd almost constantly be running into ones we didn't know. Unless we all just know the exact same 20,000 odd words

It's a bit like the long tail, really. Everybody uses 'and' and 'it', it would be almost impossible not to. But most people don't use 'reification' and 'denarrativization' in their daily lives, though they've their own niche markets. Out of, say, 20,000 words that somebody might know, there may be only a couple of hundred which are really special or rare, to be used only in certain registers.
posted by Sova at 9:33 AM on May 12, 2009


most people don't use 'reification' and 'denarrativization' in their daily lives

Speak for yourself.

Actually, I was once told how cool it was -- to another word lover -- that I was the first person he'd ever heard use "albeit" in conversation. I didn't even remember using it.
posted by dhartung at 9:39 AM on May 12, 2009


though personally I would have made them the main feature

Yeah, I kinda thought of doing that, but then again: This is MetaFilter, people here aren't stupid. I admit that I posted it the way I did partly because I thought it might result in some humorous comments.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:39 AM on May 12, 2009


As everyone knows, in March 2010, the English Language will be rebooted. All dictionaries will be reissued with special Issue #0 editions, with special hologram covers illustrated by Rob Liefeld. John Byrne is coordinating a team of linguists, lexographers, and etymologists to craft new origin stories and updated spellings for each word. In the Ultimate English Universe, words will be fresher, edgier, and more appealing to a new generation that did not grow up reading Golden Age English.
posted by brain_drain at 9:42 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Infinite Jest Sez: If only this question was answered somewhere, like the original article....

Yeah I guess the jury's out because this barely credible organization has established an arbitrary criterion of a word having been used X number of times. I read the article. The only problem is that it's stupid. Here's one part of why it's stupid. In the definition of word it references a word. A word is a word if it is used 25,000 times. What was this word before? Next it's pretty clear to me that there is a temporal aspect where something that was used longer even if it was used by fewer people has a somehow more legitimate claim. Then there's a writer reader asymmetry. There are some words that are pretty esoteric that are used rarely in publications that are read by numerous people and other words that are used more often for a smaller audience. You could put a lot of thought into it and try to determine what constitutes a word. You could just trust writers intentions on what constitutes a word. Or you could make up a self serving nonsense definition and hope people defer to it.
posted by I Foody at 9:43 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rotato?
posted by Samizdata at 9:43 AM on May 12, 2009


Ooh! Taciobellian.

It means, you do sneaky things to try and control the hard corn tortilla market.
posted by Mister_A at 10:52 AM on May 12, 2009


My spouse and I give each other bonus points for use of a rare or endangered word, or for spotting one in the wild. Sort of a linguistic safari, if you will.
posted by pointless_incessant_barking at 10:56 AM on May 12, 2009


Snarfu: To commit a breech of protocol, diet, or etiquette by eating.

"Did you see Chad bring in Cheetos to the reception? Total snarfu!."
posted by The Whelk at 10:57 AM on May 12, 2009


yet I only have a 287 word vocabulary. Gets job done.

287? Luxury. Have four.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:26 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Snarfu: To commit a breech of protocol, diet, or etiquette by eating.

I would have said "Snarfu: To attempt snark and fail miserably."
posted by marginaliana at 11:27 AM on May 12, 2009


Not to be confused with Snar Fu: The discipline and practice of snarking as self defense.
posted by I Foody at 11:30 AM on May 12, 2009


Ooo, that's so original Foody. Did you come up with it all by yourself?

(Snar Fu Offensive Action! Hidden Sarcasm and Striking Smugness!)
posted by The Whelk at 11:34 AM on May 12, 2009


The millionth word will be Packbawky
posted by jfrancis at 1:31 PM on May 12, 2009


It will be "spoork".

It's a spork crossed with a spoon, you see. A spork crossed with a fork is a spfork. A spoork crossed yet with a spoon is a spooork, and a spfork with another fork is called a spffork. A spoork crossed with a fork, however, would be a spfoork, and a spfork with a spoon a spofork.

Strangely, spfoorks and spoforks are both sterile.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:05 PM on May 12, 2009


I propose it be

Melp:
A vocalization an animal, particularly a dog or a cat, makes while yawning.


I've been slowly trying to get more people to use it. I think it's an excellent word.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:27 PM on May 12, 2009


RANDOM GUY ON THE INTERNET (WITH A BOOK TO SELL): English is reaching its millionth word!
Me: So?
RGotI(waBtS): But! But! One MEELYON!
Me: What advantage does it convey to me to know that?
RGotI(waBtS): Don't you get it? That's like, six zeroes!
Me: In base ten.
RGotI(waBtS): But that is the best base!
Me: O RLY?
posted by Eideteker at 7:50 PM on May 12, 2009


We will never reach a million words. Every time Mr Payack says we are getting close, somebody takes gullible out of the English dictionary.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:08 AM on May 13, 2009


If the number of words we know is so low, surely we'd almost constantly be running into ones we didn't know.

Despite my best efforts toward having a ginormous vocabulary, I'm constantly running into words I don't know. Yesterday: burin (in Cannibals and Kings.)
posted by Zed at 9:39 AM on May 13, 2009


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