It just seems like yesterday, it was just a jumble of 26 letters...they grow up so quickly nowadays...
English to welcome one-millionth word
The Sunday TimesFebruary 06, 2006
CHAMPIONS of the English language are about to mark a momentous point in its 1500-year history: the creation of its millionth word.The growing use of Chinglish (Chinese-English) and dozens of other ethnic hybrids has pushed the number of words in the language to 986,120, says Paul Payack, a Harvard-educated linguist monitoring its growth.
Chinglish terms include "drinktea", meaning closed, derived from the Mandarin Chinese for resting; and its opposite, "torunbusiness", meaning open, from the Mandarin word for operating.
While some are amusing, others are abrasive. Disabled people's toilets in Beijing are marked "deformedman" and in Hong Kong a "kweerboy" is a homosexual.
Mr Payack, who works for Global Language Monitor, a San Diego-based consultancy, said 20,000 new English words were registered on the company's databases last year - twice as many as a few years ago. About 20 were in Chinglish.
According to Mr Payack, the millionth word is likely to be formed by mid-year, confirming the domination of English in the global linguistic order.
French, which was the language of diplomacy in the 19th century but went into decline in the 20th, is said to contain just 100,000 words.
"Global English is no longer just dominated by either British English or American, but is running free and developing uniquely regional forms," said Mr Payack.
Chinglish and up to 60 cousins such as Spanglish, Japlish, and Hinglish (Hindi-English) owe their rise largely to the internet. Thanks to its influence, a language that evolved in Anglo-Saxon England now reaches billions of homes in the developing world, where it is transformed for local taste while remaining recognisably English.
Mr Payack's databases are compiled by computers searching sources such as newspapers, television programs and internet blogs.
He claims to have identified a "tipping point" in 1994, when the trickle of new English words became a flood. Mosaic, the first user-friendly web browser, was invented about the same time.
English has triumphed because it is open to change, Mr Payack said. French is less so: its purity is guarded by the Academie Francaise.
David Crystal, the author of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, said the statistics spoke for themselves. "In the 1960s, 250 million people spoke English, but now it's closer to two billion, or one in three people in the world," Professor Crystal said.
"But there is debate about where it goes from here. Does it splinter into a loosely connected family of English languages, that become mutually incomprehensible again, like old Latin, or do we develop a standard global English that can be understood by all? We don't know what will happen."
From The Sunday Times