Millionth word scam exposed

Remember at the end of May I posted about the Global Language Monitor celebrating the immient arrival of the one millionth word in the English language? At the time I questioned the accuracy of their studies. In fact, my exact words were, “Personally, I think it’s all bollocks.” As the comments in that thread show, it was indeed a complete and utter load of rubbish.

However, the whole concept got a real thrashing recently, which is actually very funny. The Language Log site points out that Paul Payack (of Global Language Monitor) forgot to reset his online clock to wrangle the “millionth word” he was after. That left his website displaying:

The English Language WordClock: 1,000,001

0 words until the 1,000,000th Word

Not only that, rather than fixing it correctly, he let the millionth word be decided by his scripting and it turns out that the millionth word is Web 2.0. Yes, I know – that’s not a word. It’s a phrase. And that’s largely how he managed to get a million words listed. Other “words” on his list include cloud computing, carbon neutral, slow food, shovel ready, zombie banks, overseas contingency operations and financial tsunami, not to mention a Hindi phrase, jai hoo.

But click on the Language Log link above and have a read of the article there. It’s entertaining reading, as are the accompanying comments.

By the way, how’s everyone going spreading around the new word, demedia? Obviously none of you have been working hard enough, given that it didn’t make the one million.

(Hat tip to Michael at aNadder for pointing this one out to me.)

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