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Re: "English has the most words of any language"

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  • MorphemeAddict
    On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 12:42 AM, Douglas Koller ... stevo
    Message 1 of 47 , Mar 18, 2013
      On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 12:42 AM, Douglas Koller
      <douglaskoller@...>wrote:

      > > Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2013 22:21:07 -0400
      > > From: danny.c.bowman@...
      > > Subject: "English has the most words of any language"
      > > To: CONLANG@...
      >
      > > I was talking to someone today, and he stated that English has the most
      > words of any language. I'm pretty suspicious when I hear such claims, and
      > he did not have direct evidence to back up his assertion. However, he is
      > one of the smartest and most knowledgeable people I know, and his father
      > happened to be chair of the department of linguistics at one point. It's
      > hard to chalk his claim up to ignorance or misinformation, so I started
      > wondering: is this in fact true?
      >
      > > I was wondering what list members think. Is this something that's been
      > claimed before, and if so, how is it regarded in the linguistic community?
      > Does anyone have a (reputable or suspicious) source that says English has
      > the most words? If this is a legitimate claim, how is it determined?
      >
      > I've heard this one before, certainly. But it makes no bones about it --
      > you're supposed to include *every*thing. *All* the hyper-specific jargons,
      > *all* the legalese and its Latinisms, *all* the taxonomies, *all* the words
      > like "yclept" (though I'm guessing Shakespeare or thereabouts may be the
      > cut-off point), *all* the coinages from even the remotest, farthest-flung
      > corners of Empire, *all* the slang, *all* the slithy toves... Put it
      > *al*together and you have, well, one rather impressively large corpus -- or
      > at least, a hefty, multi-volume edition of the OED (and the number
      > "1,000,000" is bandied about). Is that useful in any practical or
      > linguistic sense? I think not. But it does make English speakers feel warm
      > and fuzzy about themselves somehow, and will keep a respectable cocktail
      > party conversation going for at least fifteen minutes. Like fireworks,
      > you're supposed to ooo and aah at it while you're there, but not really
      > discuss it in gross detail the following morning.
      >
      > Barring that, let me arbitrate: English has 1,087,562 words, full stop. ;)
      >
      > I thought it was 1,048,576. My bad.

      stevo


      > Kou
      >
    • Patrick Dunn
      ... Thanks. Your permission means a lot to me. --Patrick -- Second Person, a chapbook of poetry by Patrick Dunn, is now available for order from Finishing
      Message 47 of 47 , Mar 27, 2013
        >
        >
        >
        > Argue what you will, then.
        >
        > Padraic
        >
        >
        Thanks. Your permission means a lot to me.

        --Patrick

        --
        Second Person, a chapbook of poetry by Patrick Dunn, is now available for
        order from Finishing Line
        Press<http://www.finishinglinepress.com/NewReleasesandForthcomingTitles.htm>
        and
        Amazon<http://www.amazon.com/Second-Person-Patrick-Dunn/dp/1599249065/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324342341&sr=8-2>.
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