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A Web site that tracks the amount of English words announced "Web 2.0" as English's millionth word on Wednesday morning; many language experts, however, claim that there is no way to put a number on words.

The Global Language Monitor, a website that uses a math formula to estimate how often words are created, has announced "Web 2.0" as the estimated millionth word in the English language. On Wednesday at 5:22 a.m. - the exact time that the Global Language Monitor had predicted - "Web 2.0" hit the million-word mark.  As some watched the Web site’s “English Language Wordclock” count down until the final moment, others debated whether the idea of counting words even exists as a practical concept.

The Global Language Monitor, which has been tracking English words since 2003, uses a Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) to evaluate word usage. Every word gets analyzed regarding its number of citations, geographic extent and number of appearances in various forms of media (including but not limited to: global print and electronic media, the Internet, the blogosphere and social media). Once a word has made 25,000 appearances and makes sense in at least 60 percent of the world, it becomes marked as an official part of the English language, according to the Global Language Monitor. Currently, the Web site finds approximately one new English word every 98 minutes.

The Global Language Monitor cited a list of words that were in the running of the “Million Word March,” which included words such as: Mobama — relating to the fashion-sense of the U.S. First Lady; Jai Ho! — from the Hindi, “it is accomplished” (achieved English-language popularity through the multiple Academy Award Winner, “Slumdog Millionaire”); N00b — a disparaging term referring to a neophyte in playing a particular game; and Sexting — sending email or text messages with sexual content. Web 2.0 had the highest PQI score, though, which enabled it to rise above the contenders and become 1,000,000th.

According to Paul J.J. Payack, president and chief word analyst for the Global Language Monitor, English has the most words of any language. Although several language experts agree with Payack that English typically has more words than most other languages, many experts disagree that there is a way to put a number on these words.

"This is stuff that you just can't count," said Jesse Sheidlower, editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary. "No one can count it, and to pretend that you can is totally disingenuous. It simply can't be done."

According to Sheidlower, the Oxford English Dictionary’s approximate 600,000 entries do not come near to including all English words.

Aside from the issue of certain words' absences in formal references like dictionaries, those trying to count a language's total words are faced with questions such as: whether to count every number, how to deal with single words that contain more than one meaning, how to count something that is always changing and what gives something the ability to be classified as a word in general.

The Global Language Monitor Web site explains that one can make the same argument of immeasurability for anything a human tries to quantify, such as the number of stars in the galaxy, or the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (hence the prediction of Global Warming).

Payack credits his strong technology background for motivating him to see possibility in a project that some call unachievable: “In this type of environment, one rarely ponders why something cannot be done, but rather how to make something happen that has never been done before.”

Payack also stresses that the word-count estimation of the “Million Word March” is not as important as the idea behind it, which consists of showing that English is “the first truly global language.”

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Egg on Their Face
By Goty on 6/11/2009 8:31:56 AM , Rating: 5
Boy are they going to be embarrassed when they realize that web 2.0 is actually a word and a number.

RE: Egg on Their Face
By afkrotch on 6/11/2009 8:35:55 AM , Rating: 2
Ya, no kidding. This sounds pretty stupid.

RE: Egg on Their Face
By naes21 on 6/11/2009 8:38:33 AM , Rating: 5
Not as embarrassed as when they discover they counted words in other languages. Using a Hindi word in an English sentence doesn't make it English.

RE: Egg on Their Face
By liquidaim on 6/11/2009 12:21:22 PM , Rating: 3
How about the following:

Garam Masala

RE: Egg on Their Face
By martinrichards23 on 6/11/2009 1:53:43 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, quite the opposite is true.

Apart from you being demonstrably wrong because there are many many words we use all the time that were originally foreign (often french).

Secondly, a noise you make with your mouth becomes a word when it is in common use and commonly understood. The source of inspiration for this noise is of absolutely no importance.

RE: Egg on Their Face
By Le Québécois on 6/11/2009 2:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
We use many French words in English mostly because of the origins of the English language. Here, let me quote the Wiki on this:

"After the Norman conquest, Old English developed into Middle English, borrowing heavily from the Norman (Anglo-French) vocabulary and spelling conventions."

According to the Wiki, French make up for 29% of the English language.

Now add to that another 29% coming from Latin origin (same origin as French) and you get the "why" French is used so often in English.

As for the other languages "borrowing", it's normal if you consider that English is probably the language who's evolving the fastest with the world globalization.

RE: Egg on Their Face
By Spivonious on 6/11/2009 8:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, at the very least, "web two-point-oh" is two words. This sounds a lot like a PR grab.

RE: Egg on Their Face
By marvdmartian on 6/11/2009 9:54:55 AM , Rating: 2
More likely considered a phrase, than a word. The decision to make that a word, versus a phrase, just makes them look foolish.

Mr Webster is probably rolling in his grave right now!

RE: Egg on Their Face
By rcc on 6/11/2009 6:33:00 PM , Rating: 2
particularly since it sounds like they had be pick which one deserved to be the one millionth word.

People are strange.

Since when is that a new word?
By 91TTZ on 6/11/2009 8:52:50 AM , Rating: 2
It sounds like an existing word combined with an existing number.

Ready for the 1,000,001th word? Web 3.0

RE: Since when is that a new word?
By 91TTZ on 6/11/2009 8:57:54 AM , Rating: 2
*make that 1,000,001st

RE: Since when is that a new word?
By acase on 6/11/2009 8:59:37 AM , Rating: 2
Yah, if that counted as a word than I am pretty sure all the numbers would, and that would just make "One million" the one millionth word.

RE: Since when is that a new word?
By Donovan on 6/11/2009 11:55:52 AM , Rating: 3
Depends whether they start with "Zero" or "One".

one of the 40% asks:
By Scabies on 6/11/2009 11:00:28 AM , Rating: 2
Once a word has made 25,000 appearances and makes sense in at least 60 percent of the world, it becomes marked as an official part of the English language, according to the Global Language Monitor.

Maybe the part of that 60% which comes through Dailytech could enlighten me..
What the hell does "Web 2.0" even mean?

RE: one of the 40% asks:
By theslug on 6/11/2009 12:49:42 PM , Rating: 2
It means nothing. It's a stupid buzzword.

RE: one of the 40% asks:
By amanojaku on 6/11/2009 12:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. It also means the use of versioning (not a real word, either) is getting out of hand. At least one TV show and magazine used it in their titles, and I think a song or movie might have, too. If the missing link is found I guess they'll call that human 2.0, and we'll be human 3.0 or some b.s.

RE: one of the 40% asks:
By GeorgeOu on 6/11/2009 7:12:26 PM , Rating: 2
It means whatever you want it to mean as far as marketing and sales people are concerned. Whatever they're trying to sell you, it's web 2.0.

The GLM is full of sh1t
By amanojaku on 6/11/2009 9:04:37 AM , Rating: 2
These are the same people that said "Obama" is an English word, and is the root of other words. They also said "Misunderestimate" is a word. These people are making it a point to decide on what the English language is all by themselves.

RE: The GLM is full of sh1t
By Helbore on 6/11/2009 11:13:30 AM , Rating: 2
I think I know the people who run this website.

It's strange, because I was sure they didn't have jobs.

RE: The GLM is full of sh1t
By tmouse on 6/11/2009 3:08:16 PM , Rating: 3
I find it hard to believe that in 60% of the world (we are not even talking about 60% of the english speaking parts of the world) people know what mobama or Jai Ho means. Maybe I do not grasp how one evaluates "makes sense". The 25,000 appearances is a joke since many "news" sites directly use existing stories, add in blogs and that number can be reached in 24 hours.

How disappointing.
By FaceMaster on 6/11/2009 10:54:18 AM , Rating: 3
What a boring 1,000,000th word...

By kextyn on 6/11/2009 11:01:36 AM , Rating: 2
Whoever is deciding these "words" need to be added to the English language needs to open a dictionary and check out another word... phrase.

It's not just web 2.0. There are a LOT of phrases on that site that are now "words" in the English language. Can we get some moderation on the English language?!

Multiple problems
By Suntan on 6/11/2009 12:44:50 PM , Rating: 2
As mentioned "web 2.0" is an old word and an even older number, but in addition to that "web 2.0" has been used in common parlance for at least a couple years. It is not like it is even a new phrase let a lone a new word.

Sounds like a bunch of dorks that got their hands on a web address and decided to elect themselves keepers of the English language. (Although I will continue to envision this site run by a bunch of overly strict and fussy English Teachers/Librarians that turn into Stone-Cold-Foxes when they take off their glasses and let down their hair…)


How is this news?
By mindless1 on 6/11/2009 2:10:20 PM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't it be a blog about an example of stupidity calling that a word?

My proposal
By phaxmohdem on 6/12/2009 3:16:51 AM , Rating: 2
I submit that the word "douchenozzle" be added as the one millionth word instead, in honor of the person trying to add this to our official language.

As an aside I wonder if Windows 3.11 has made it as an official English word yet.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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