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We're growing, certainly, but at what rate? Login/Join
 
Member
Picture of Chris J. Strolin
posted
A question has come up on the OEDILF site that no one seems to have a ready answer for so I thought I would trot it out over here and let y'all have a shot at it.

That the English language is growing is, of course, a given, and should someone state that the language is bigger this year than last, no one argues. The question, however, is just how much is the language growing each year?

This question is more difficult than it might appear at first glance since there is a fairly wide variety of what we consider "words." Do phrases count? Idioms? Slang terms? Professional jargon? Medical terms? I'd say "Yep," "Of course," "Why not?", "...uh, probably," and "I guess, especially if you're letting that last item in."

So, in order to sidestep getting bogged down in the "What is a word?" issue, I am looking for the yearly rate of growth of the English language by whatever standards you might use to measure it. Has anyone here ever come across a percentage of this nature? As huge as the language already is, I wouldn't have thought that the actual rate of growth would be more than 1% yearly or so, and yet that figure has been roundly hooted down by the OEDILFian community as a whole.

Any input you might be able to provide would be helpful. Thanks much.
 
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Picture of arnie
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CJ,

Here's one of several threads.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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¿Inglés? ¿Cuál es inglés? En América hablamos español. Wink
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Well, it has been a long time since we've seen you, CJ. Nice to see a post from you!
quote:
So, in order to sidestep getting bogged down in the "What is a word?" issue,
I see why you need to sidestep that issue, but it's an ongoing issue here, and I enjoy the discussion.

As you can see from arnie's link, the whole question of "how many words are there?" seems to bring about a spirited discussion here. There are those who say it's impossible to get a precise count and therefore it's a useless pursuit. There are others who say we can get a rough estimate, as long as we can agree on the counting criteria. However, it seems like you are asking for a percentage growth rate, correct? I don't think we've discussed that, and I think it's a great question. I wonder if the OED has looked at that.
 
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