“Enough grit and arrogance to drive you mad …”

By Barry Ronge, The Times (Jo-burg, ZA).  July 24, 2011 –

We probably have enough words in our dictionaries to say anything that is worth saying, but things change and new words are created and, occasionally, older words slip back into fashion.

“The Global Language Monitor”, run by Paul JJ Payack, tracks the rise and fall of trend-words and phrases. Most of these fade rapidly when the fad that created them loses it’s social currency.

Have you recently heard anyone talking about Generation X? Probably not, because that social group has morphed into the social network, where they can “google” things, find friends on Facebook or start “poking” people on the internet.

These buzz words define the mood and style of the time, just as fashion houses and leisure industries do. Buzz words such as “disco mania”, “big hair”, “glitzy” and “high rollers” defined the excessive 1980s, just as “dropping out” and “peaceniks” are nostalgic souvenirs of the hippies and their flower-power revolution.

Mr Payack’s researchers collect these words and it goes without saying that the movies feature prominently. When a great title or a line of dialogue finds a life of its own, it becomes a pop-culture icon for the era.

For example, it has been 40 years since Clint Eastwood said: “Make my day!” and 39 years since Marlon Brando said: “Make him an offer he can’t refuse” – but both phrases are still current.

Payack’s team also came up with the term “wardrobe malfunction” when Janet Jackson gained unexpected exposure at the 2004 Super Bowl. The phrase was revived when Lady Gaga flashed a nipple in Sydney, Australia. It’s amazing how her elaborate costume seemed to vanish when a little pink nipple popped out and made a far bigger statement than the dress itself.

Now Payack’s team reveal their “8th Annual Global Survey of HollyWords of 2010″, a list of the current words and phrases that resonated through the movie scene.

The most frequently-used “HollyWord” of last year is “grit”, obviously related to the success of the re-make of True Grit. The film picked up a raft of nominations but ended up with just one award. Nonetheless, Payack’s team found “grit” cropping up in many reviews and features.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “grit” as “pluck, courage, perseverance and an indomitable spirit”.

The words “grit” and “gritty” featured prominently in hundreds of reviews and interviews about True Grit, in which Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld displayed enormous toughness and tenacity. They brought “grit” back into currency.

“Grit” also migrated into reviews and discussions of The Fighter, a boxing drama based in a working-class area that was constantly described as “gritty”, as was James Franco’s harrowing mountaineering ordeal in 127 Hours. The Oscar-winner The King’s Speech looked beyond the pomp and circumstance and found remarkable “grit” in a king of England. Even Toy Story 3, a tale of abandoned toys trying to avoid being turned into garbage, were praised for their “grit”, courage and loyalty.   [Read More.]

Number of Words in the English Language: 1,025,109.8

The number of words in the English language is: 1,025,109.8.   This is the estimate by the Global Language Monitor on January 1, 2014.

The English Language passed the Million Word threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 a.m. (GMT).  The Millionth Word was the controversial ‘Web 2.0′. Currently there is a new word created every 98 minutes or about 14.7 words per day.

Google Validates GLM’s No. of Words in English Prediction

GLM/Google vs OED and Webster’s 3rd

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For more detail, go here.

Though GLM’s analysis was the subject of much controversy at the time, the recent Google/Harvard Study of the Current Number of Words in the English Language is 1,022,000.  The above graphic is from the AAAS /Science as reported on NPR.   At the time the  New York Times article on the historic threshold famously quoted several dissenting linguists as claiming  that “even Google could not come up with” such a methodology.  Unbeknownst to them Google was doing precisely that.

The number of words in the English language according to GLM now stands at:  1,013,913.   The difference between the two analyses is .0121%, which is widely considered statistically insignificant.

Google’s number, which is based on the counting of  the words in the 15,000,000 English language books it has scanned into the ‘Google Corpus,’ mirrors GLM’s Analysis.  GLM’s number is based upon its algorithmic methodologies, explication of which is available from its site.

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