Trivia Teaser

Which of these is a synonym of 'compulsory'?

Attribute
Compulsion
Optional
Necessary

Which words are what?

11
Jan
2011
 

By Christine Lovatt

How many words are there in the English language? I’ve often been asked but it’s a tough question to answer. For a start, what do you define as a word? There’s the word word, but there are also words, wordy, wordier, wordiest, wordless, wordlessly – do you count them all?

Then there are obsolete words, slang and jargon, plus many new words, including computer-based technology. Foreign words are constantly being scooped up and adapted to English.

Luckily, somebody has made these decisions. There’s a linguistic consultancy, based in San Diego, called the GLM (Global Language Monitor) that is counting words in English use. It started off with a base vocabulary taken from the major dictionaries that contain the historic core of the language.

Then it created a formula that measures the languages found in print, electronic media, radio and television.

By using this it can tell how fast new words are being created and can also follow the rate that foreign words are being absorbed into English.

They estimate that the English language has now exceeded a million words.

The language used by the most people in the world is Mandarin Chinese, spoken by over a billion. But English, which is spoken by roughly 500 million, is the most widely spread language, which is why English is often the lingua franca used in business, academic conferences, air-traffic control etc.

Spanish apparently has 225,000 words in contemporary use, and the largest German dictionary contains about 200,000 words (although they tend to be much longer than ours). Russian has just reached 125,000 and French has only 100,000.

However, we don’t use that many words every day - the average vocabulary of an educated English-speaking person is between 24,000 and 30,000.

And most of them can be found in our crosswords.
Happy puzzling!

Christine

 

58 Responses to

Which words are what?

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relle said:
January 16, 2011 at 12:00 AM

Well sorry to spoil your fun.... but I would rather spend my time in games & chat with people that are like Dj1....I'm not interested in replying to this blog again....but maybe this is a good quote to think about....think first & speak afterwards!

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yow1e said:
January 16, 2011 at 7:10 AM

Relle there is another saying, "when truth hurts, then feel it, because no apology shall be given to what is either said or done".

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January 16, 2011 at 7:08 PM

oh yow1e were you addressing the last statement to yourself? And before you address people as youngsters or the equivalent, kindly look up their names on the membership. They have ages on them. And I, for example, am old enough to be your mother. LOL. Unless, of course, you cheated about your age?

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yow1e said:
January 16, 2011 at 11:26 PM

Liesl are you (in the second line) alluding to that abject fatuousity called dj1. Now girly either be more specific in your childish allusions or are just another one of that fatuousities supercilious blandishers. By the way, keep up the childish lauding girly, it's fun responding to it.

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January 16, 2011 at 11:49 PM

Yow1e you have a bad case of verbal diarrhoea-take some chill pills sonny!

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yow1e said:
January 17, 2011 at 12:03 AM

Tell me girly (liponstick) do you wallow in being a proctalgia, or is that secondary to your amentia.

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January 17, 2011 at 12:22 AM

Since lingua franca started the games of intellectual chess (as yowie called it earlier up the page) I decided to google and found an interesting wikipedia article though I am also aware that wikipedia may not be the definitive source it does answer dj's original query. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingua_franca

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rhve said:
January 17, 2011 at 12:25 AM

Fatuosity has only one u, and as "fatuousities" (sic) is a possessive as used above, not a plural it should be "fatuosity's". Wouldn't like to see anyone making a fool of himself by ignorant misuse of his words. This blog has certainly elicited an interesting range of words not commonly used but I notice that repetition is setting in.

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yow1e said:
January 17, 2011 at 5:38 AM

Talk about being not only scortum but also blennus. You two (stitchpudd & rhve)ought to be lauded as being asinus, but that can be overlooked. Firstly (rhve) fatuous has two u's, or are you so imbecilic, that you have no concept of how to employ a dictionary. Secondly (stitchpudd) lingua franca is a bastard italian phrase (id est it's language is half and half), and as said earlier it refers to not only the gauls of germany but also the lesser language. Est one thing to be a supercilious blandisher, and another in boasting of being imbecilic, but you two, like others, excel in being both.

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Staff

Dr. Play said:
January 17, 2011 at 8:19 AM

Let's keep it on topic please, folks... and please refrain from posting offensive or insulting remarks.

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January 17, 2011 at 9:32 AM

I never made any claims as to my intellect or knowledge so I feel no insult whatsoever. I found the article interesting for the history of the phrase which had not been addressed at that point. Yowie is the winner on showing how many words he actually can use on a daily basis. If enough people get the meaning of words incorrect as to the standards there will just be new usage meanings for that word adding to the potential count.

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yow1e said:
January 17, 2011 at 12:20 PM

To whom have you made your comments to, Dr Play. Est both courteously and equitably requested that either addressings be made specific or not at all. Afterall self defence is an unchallenged legal right. Furthermore it shall be both argued, and therein predicated that not only persons ought not to intrude and provoke an argument (on behalf of some other) with another, if they do not want them to defend themselves against that intrusion and provocation, but also persons ought not to make argumentative comments upon either words or phrases that they have no knowledge of. As for myself (re stitchpuzz's first line) it was asked (liesl Grimm), if I were a lawyer, whereby the appropriate answer was given.

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said:
January 17, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I think it is quite obvious who Dr.Play is referring to. Thank you Dr.Play for intervening. I must say though I have had a good laugh this morning! However I do look forward to continuing a 'friendly' discussion about 'Words'.

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January 17, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Ugh,yow1e, your pretend latin word usage to sound erudite is sickening. Asinus is the Latin noun for ass. The adjective in English is actually asinine. That is the only one I will explain to you. In future, kindly look up your dictionary before trying to use "erudite" words.

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yow1e said:
January 17, 2011 at 3:49 PM

For your information Liesl, asinus (m) is used in the nom case (I take it, you do know the respective latin cases)for blockhead, fool, dolt etc.,. If your knowledge of latin is as good as you claim, then you would not have made yourself look so fatuous in your last childish remark. I quite agree with you winnnjazza, give your mirror a break, I think it's getting fed up looking at that proctalgia.

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January 17, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Sticks & stones will break my bones.....but your words are ludicrous! Listen to the Dr & give up Yowie!

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said:
January 17, 2011 at 4:12 PM

It is always great to hear from the users of YouPlay and wonderful to see a blog post generate a good discussion. It’s important that members of the site feel as though they can contribute without their grammar and spelling being criticised publicly. People of many ages and backgrounds visit YouPlay and although some people may not be as eloquent as others, their opinions are also valued. As Dr.Play asked, please keep the comments friendly :) Avatar Chris

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rhve said:
January 17, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Quite right Yow1e, fatuous does have a second u, but fatuosity does not. Some words do change like that. The adjectives you have been using are starting to look like confessions rather than accusations. The unfamiliar words are certainly interesting to look up but I don't think I'll be using them in ordinary conversation. I speak to communicate, not to show off.

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kragzy said:
January 17, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Well! Amazing what can happen when you're not looking. A few days away and the blog is filled with, um, well yes, words fail me. A Yowie by the way is a mythological humanoid in Australian bush-lore, similar to the Yeti or Bigfoot. That is, a beast that looks like a man but really isn't. Just thought I'd throw that in. Cheers

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yow1e said:
January 18, 2011 at 4:39 AM

Liponstick; liesl grimm; winjazza, it was known that the hallick, dj1, wanted a skoka, but you three took the cake.

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Maggie10 said:
January 18, 2011 at 5:58 AM

Oh the joys of the English language. May I politely suggest that Yow1e may be a floccinaucinihilipilificator.

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Maggie10 said:
January 18, 2011 at 6:13 AM

Apologies - to be one myself - I should have had a question mark on the last comment.

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yow1e said:
January 18, 2011 at 11:36 AM

For a lexical mythologist (maggie10) you certainly know your non-existent words. If you are going to use that verb (or its noun) again, make sure you either spell it correctly or use the semantics of it correctly or do both.

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January 18, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Chill out sonny-time to eat some humble pie!

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rhve said:
January 18, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Maggie10, you may enjoy this site http://ideonexus.com/2005/07/10/the-floccinaucinihilipilificators/

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spoggy said:
January 18, 2011 at 4:10 PM

At work the other day , i was told that Mrs J was s.o.b.whilst s.o.o.b., she needed a U.A to test levels of A.B'S , this was difficult as she has S.T.M.L , we suspected a U.T.I ? but it could have been her H.T ? she has been diagnosed with A.F. and C.C.F ?

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relle said:
January 18, 2011 at 5:22 PM

lol Spoggy, that will keep the GLM on their toes!

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relle said:
January 19, 2011 at 11:09 PM

RIP! Words!