TEFL teaching is hard enough as it is without the language growing bigger by the day! Well this month marks a milestone for English as the language officially gets its 1,000,000th word. A company in the US keeps track of words being used and any new words or word forms. Global Language Monitor keeps track of new words appearing in global print, social network sites such as twitter and Youtube, electronic media and internet blogs and uses what’s called a Predictive Quantities Indicator system to determine whether a word is used enough to warrant being called a word”. Each potential new word is assessed on depth (number of citations) and breadth (geographical usage), with each new word needing a minimum of 25,000 citations to qualify. With English being spoken all around the world in schools and business’ it is open to influences of other languages and cultures.
If you count main single word entries in the Oxford Dictionary there are considerably less than a million, but add to that all word forms and derivatives you get a lot closer. Add these to new words, slang and combined words being invented and used daily you see that English as a living language grows and evolves at an amazing rate! Contenders for the millionth word included noob: someone new to a task or community, and slumdog: a word taken from Danny Boyle’s blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire used to describe a child growing up in the slums.
The word that officially made it was Web 2.0: the next generation of web products and online services. A generation ago there were around 250 million people speaking English, compare that to 2.5 billion today, it’s no wonder why there are an estimated 14 new words being used each day. It’s just a good job that as a TEFL teacher you are not expected to teach everyone all of the words!