Counting The Unknowable.

April 3rd, 2006 · 1 Comment
by Booksquare

This may be the most delightfully absurd story we’ve read in, well, hours. Paul J.J. Payack, an amateur something-or-other, has calculated that the English language will acquire its millionth word sometime this year. Of course, the experts, you know, the ones who count all the words and keep careful statistics, they say not so fast.

Such knowledge is apparently, well, unknowable.

Presumably that’s ’cause so many words have died deserved deaths. We have no clue where the vowels are buried. But still, it’s a wonderful thought — a finite number of words comprising the English language, if only for the brief moment it takes to declare the millionth word, do a litle ceremony, and then celebrate word 1,000,001, which will surely be coined within moments of the millionth.

“English,” Elster [Charles Harrington Elster, the author of “What in the Word? Wordplay, Word Lore and Answers to Your Peskiest Questions About Language] said, “is this gluttonous language where wretched excess is just barely enough.”

Yes, indeed. That’s what makes it so wonderful.

[tags]words, lexicon, english language[/tags]

File Under: Square Pegs

1 response so far ↓