“The Million Word milestone brings to notice the coming of age of English as the first truly global language”, said Paul J.J. Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor.
The Global Language Monitor, however, accepts as a word any coinage that has gained sufficiently wide usage: this includes hybrid words in Chinglish (Chinese English), Hinglish (Hindi English), Spanglish (Spanish English), Hollywords (terms created by the film industry), computer jargon and words forged by the internet.
Appropriately enough, the 1,000,000th word accepted as genuine yesterday was “Web 2.0” which was defined as “the next generation of web products and services, coming soon to a browser near you”.
Three other terms narrowly lost out to “Web 2.0” in the race the million mark: “Jai Ho!” a Hinglish expression signifying a major accomplishment; “slumdog” (made popular by the film Slumdog Millionaire), meaning a child slum dweller, and “n00b”, a mixture of letters and zeros which is a mocking term for a newcomer in the online gamer community.
If the Global Language Monitor is right in its calculation, for every French word, there are now ten in English, or nearly-English.
Mr Payack and his colleagues use what they call a Predictive Quantities Indicator to assess whether a usage qualifies as a word: each contender is analysed according to depth (number of citations) and breadth (geographic extent of word usage), as well as the number of times a word has appeared in the global print and electronic media, the Internet, blogs, and social media such as Twitter and YouTube. Words need a minimum of 25,000 citations to qualify.
Purists, professional lexicographers and traditional Scrabble players are all likely to reject many of the words accepted by the Global Language Monitor.