Thursday, June 11, 2009

The One Millionth Word!

Mashable reports that there's a group called the Global Language Monitor -- which sounds like the villains in a minor Grant Morrison comic, by the way -- that is claiming that "web 2.0" is the one millionth word in the English language. There's some controversy surrounding the claim, of course, since apparently the GLMs didn't count every single word and wait for the millionth one to walk by, but just decided it's about time for a millionth word, and this is the one they like.

Given that words don't come in ones and twos, but in phalanxes and divisions, there's never going to be the single "millionth word," so just picking one random zeitgeisty word is as reasonable a method as any. But there are two problems with "web 2.0" even in that formulation.

First, as Mashable and others have been saying, "web 2.0" sounds old and tired now. If we're going to do something zippy and Internetty, surely "tweet" is more modern?

But what I haven't seen anyone mention is that "web 2.0" can't be the millionth word in the English language because it isn't a word. It's a phrase. Surely we all realize the difference between a word and a phrase? (And the English language already has well over a million phrases, as anyone with the bare minimum of mathematical literacy can quickly realize.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Global Language Monitor" is a complete fraud. See numerous Language Log postings over the past year about Mr. Payack's exploits.

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