Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Words are pouring out

The marvelous thing about the Wired World in which we live, some of us more reluctantly than others admittedly, is how conjoined we are. We learn things whether we wish to or not. The future will NOT be here in a moment, cliched advertising copy to the contrary, it is already and always here and it unfolds in untold variations and iterations no matter how we feel about it.

The Global Language Monitor (no word if there's a Merrimac as well) has determined the English language is nearing its one millionth word (including the seven you can't say on radio and television I assume) and the word, by their estimation, is "n00b", sort of a variant of newb, which is short for newbie.

These may be hard economic times, but for lovers of the English language, it's Fat City (ok, maybe not that one). When when you read the report about n00b you may be struck by the number of words purportedly in the "average person's vocabulary" of about 14,000. The linguistically gifted, it goes on to report, have about 70,000 words. I have NO idea how we determine 'gifted'-perhaps there are teams of evaluators who travel around, measuring the circumference lips or length of tongues ('Gene Simmons to the n00b courtesy phone?') or the degree of vibrato in a larynx. Perhaps the linguistically gifted get an amendment identifying them as such to keep in their wallet together with their driver's license and organ donor card. (I guess I should do better than 'amendment'; perhaps addendum or codicil?)

There are other candidates for that One Millionth Word says the news report, to include a personal favorite for oh-so-cynical reasons, "chiconomics". There's something intoxicatingly Monty Pythonish about all the wordplay and I'm tempted to go on, but I'd better cut down a bit then.
-bill kenny

No comments: