A Pitcher’s Worth a Million Words

shakespeare-seriously-noob.jpgAustin, Texas June 10, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor today announced that Web 2.0 has bested Jai Ho, N00b and Slumdog as the 1,000,000th English word or phrase. added to the codex of fourteen hundred-year-old language. Web 2.0 is a technical term meaning the next generation of World Wide Web products and services. It has crossed from technical jargon into far wider circulation in the last six months

from The Language Monitor

Technically, is “Web 2.0” a word? Isn’t it a phrase or a version? The reason that English has more words than any other language (at least according to English-speaking linguists), is that a) it historically and compulsively steals the best words from all of the other languages it comes into contact with, like schadenfreude and tutti frutti, and b) because it makes it so gosh darned easy to make up new words out of thin air! The English, pedantic though they may be, and unlike the French and Spanish, have no Royal Academy of English to decree what is or is not an “official” word. It is a Darwinian jungle of a language, where words subject themselves to a merciless usage-based survival of the fittest. But in the final analysis, any fool can invent a new English word.

The Dowbrigade attempted to fill a void in Shakespeare’s voluminous lexicon when, at the tender age of 16, he coined the term “spastik” /spaz-tÉEk/, to describe the desire to get high, reasoning analagously that if you want drink you are thirsty, if you want food you are hungry, but if you want to get high, you are spastik.

It is uncertain if the term spastik ever reached beyond our little gang of juvenile delinquents in Upstate New York. We think we may have heard it in a rap song back in the 80’s, and once in a smokey reggae bar in Cambridgeport, but it was never clear enough to be sure. Perhaps The Global Language Monitor will never feature it on their web site, but it certainly seems more wordly than “Web 2.0”.

About dowbrigade

Semi-retired academic from Harvard, Boston University, Fulbright Commission, Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manta, currently columnist for El Diario de Portoviejo and La Marea de Manta.
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12 Responses to A Pitcher’s Worth a Million Words

  1. Luke says:

    What is worth a million words, a pitcher or picture?

  2. Joe says:

    I think it’s a picture !

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  4. Bo says:

    This post expresses perfectly the changing fluidity of language. When I was teenager in Britain, ‘spastic’ meant someone witha physical disability. Years later when I taught teenagers they came up with phrases and expressions that were comprehensible only to their group.
    Language captures a certain linguistic moment, for a certain group (of any size) at a specific time.

  5. tyreecewer says:

    generation maximum near article summary positive 100

  6. Shakesphere looks funny in your pic.

  7. How ironic is it that while the web is spawning a whole host of new vocabulary, the mass of content reduces the quality of the English language. Spelling is terrible nowadays and we are all using text speak to write instead of proper words!

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  9. Coty S says:

    LOL…did we really need to add Web 2.0 to our language? Is there like a time limit on how long a word is slang before we feel compelled to add it to our language? Is Pwned on its way into our codex next lol?

  10. You blog entry definitely was one of the high points of my Thursday. I was on MSN searching for something totally unrelated when the blog caught my attention. I’m glad I took the time to read your post!
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  11. Toddler says:

    I often wonder why English has no academy of language, as you mention. Maybe it’s because we share our language with the USA, and always had linguistic ‘cousins’ who adapted English -English (so to speak) to their own culture.

  12. basur says:

    Spelling is terrible nowadays and we are all using text speak to write instead of proper words!

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