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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Jun 11, 2009

Our newsroom was ecstatic to learn on Wednesday, as should every English-speaking person, that the millionth English word was added to our vocabulary list.

That should not be a surprise as new words pop up every day. How, you ask. It is easy when you think of:

n American teens with their slang.

n Entertainment industry/sports world associates and their lingo.

n Politicos and their doublespeak.

n Lawyers with their legalese.

n The countless foreigners coming to claim the United States as their own. They bring more than baggage as their foreign words have added flourishes and ruffles to our language.

When taking all of this into account, it should be easy to see how words are born and embraced.

The millionth word is “Web 2.0” and refers to the second, more social generation of the Internet. We have to ask-when will you use Web 2.0 in a sentence?

Our English contains more words than any other language. Mandarin Chinese has a mere 450,000 words. According to the Global Language Monitor, the new word putting the list at 1,000,000 was added at 5:22 a.m. This word watcher has a special math formula that is capable of estimating how often new words are created.

We should be thrilled that English is a people’s language. It ebbs and flows unlike other languages that are not permeable. English adopts words while other tongues, like German and Italian, merely translate.

While “more” is better, this may be bittersweet moment. As new words emerge, they displace other time-honored ones that are not used as frequently or at times, ignored completely. Other words that were assigned one usage in a period of history are reworked by lexicographers to have new connotations. It is beguiling and confusing at best even to those of us who have studied the subject for years.

If Daniel Webster could see where we are, would he marvel at how thick his dictionary has become.