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Frequently Asked Questions About GLM

Frequently Asked Questions About the Global Language Monitor

Q.What is the Global Language Monitor?

A.The Global Language Monitor documents, analyzes, and tracks the latest trends in word usage and word choices and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English.GLM, an internet media analytics company, was founded six years ago in Silicon Valley.It is a direct descendent of yourDictionary.com, the premier multi-language dictionary site with some 230 languages.YDC had very deep academic roots with some two dozen of the world’s top linguists on its Academic Council of Experts.The Global Language Monitor is one of the first companies to exclusively focus on English as the first, true global language, and its impact on various aspects of culture, such as politics, the arts, entertainment, science, technology, and the like. The leading global media have come to rely upon GLM’s analysis and analytical techniques. The Global Language Monitor is based in Austin, Texas.Paul JJ Payack is the founding president of both companies.

Q.Who is Paul JJ Payack?

A.Paul JJ Payack is the president and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.   Payack was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and grew up in neighboring Boonton.  (His twin-brother, Peter,  is a poet, professor and the first ‘Poet Populist’ of Cambridge, Massachusetts.)  Payack earned a scholarship to Bucknell University where he studied psychology and philosophy, took a year off to write his first book, A Ripple in Entropy, and transferred to Harvard University where he was graduated with a bachelor of arts, concentrating in comparative literature, where he subsequently earned a post-graduate diploma (CAGS).  After an early stint in academia, Payack spent his career with a number of America’s most innovative technology companies, including such pioneers as Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Apollo Computer, Network Systems Corporation and Intelliguard Software, and Legato Systems.  He was  a senior executive for three Fortune 500 companies (including Unisys, D&B, and companies that were absorbed by SUN, EMC and HP) as well as a number of Silicon Valley start-ups, spin-outs and spin-downs.

Payack has served as an adjunct lecturer for the University of Massachusetts for some three years, and has spoken at the Federal Reserve Bank (NY), Hughes Electronics, The University of Texas (Arlington), and many other organizations and educational institutions.Payack is a frequent media commentator on technology, words, and language to such organizations as CNN, NPR, the BBC, Reuters, the New York Times, the Sunday Times (London), and the Chinese Peoples’ Daily (Beijing).

Payack’s penultimate book, A Million Words and Counting, was published as a Citadel Imprint by Kensington, New York in 2008; the quality paperback edition was released a year later.  (His latest book was an analysis of the Healthcare crisis in the US.)

For more extensive background information, check out Linkedin.

What’s your profession?

A.  Over the years my titles have included (in order):  Assistant Director of Admissions, Technical Writer, Engineer, Marketing Manager, Corporate Director,  v.p., C.M.O., SVP, president, C.E.O., founder, co-founder, principal and now ‘Chief Word Analyst’.   And husband, father, grandfather as well as writer, poet, metafictionist, collage artist, to name a few.

Q. What is a ‘Chief Word Analyst’?

A. The New York Times, in 2006, was the first to mention our PQI technology in an article about The Power of Words, which used our technology to see if the NY real estate market was heading toward a collapse.  In the article, Stephanie Rosenblum, described me as a ‘word analyst’.  I thought that was an apt description and have used the phrase as my title ever since.

GLM’s motto is ‘How will the global trends impact your world!?’ and that is precisely what we do — applying statistical techniques, numerical analysis and the latest in computer technology to the analysis of the trends identified in Internet, blogosphere, print and electronic media, and now so-called social media.

Q. Linguists frequently spar with you in the media.

Q. Why was there such controversy about the Million Word March?

A. Some believe that there is no way to count words, since the nature of what a word is, itself, is an open question. Hence you cannot count what you cannot define. More so, even attempting to take a measure of the language is to be considered with suspicion.

Q.  Don’t unabridged dictionaries have all or most of the words in the language, according to a rigid set of criteria.  Can’t you just count them?

A.  Apparently not without great difficulty.

Q.  Google and Harvard University recently launched the Google Books Ngram Viewer.  They also calculated the number of words in the English Language.  How does that compare to the number that your obtained from the Global language Monitor’s algorithmic-based analysis?

A.  According to the Google/Harvard Study of the Current Number of Words in the English Language is 1,022,000.  Our current estimate, as of January 1, 2014, is 1,025,109.8 (we include the decimal point to emphasize the continuous nature of word creation).

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


GLM/Google vs OED and Webster’s 3rd


The above graphic is from the AAAS /Science as reported on NPR.   At the time the an article in  New York Times article on the historic threshold famously quoted several experts 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:  1,025,109.8 (January 1, 2014 estimate).   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.

Q.  The 1,000,000 word was ‘web 2.0;’ it contains letter and a number and even a bit of punctuation.  Is it a word?

A. It’s a lexical unit. Think about this for a moment:  is O.K. a word?  Or 24/7, or w00t. or 3-D?  There is a long history of English words with numbers (or punctuation) intermixed.  And it is a burgeoning trend; it’s called L33t Speak.  Check the New York Times, where you will find and goodly amount of headlines featuring Government 2.0 or Healthcare 2.0, and the like.

Q.What is the methodology?

A.The Global Language Monitor first established a base number of words in the language using the number of words in the generally accepted unabridged dictionaries (the O.E.D., Merriam-Webster’s, Macquarie’s, etc.), that contain the historic ‘core’ of the English language, including every word found in the historical codex of the language beginning with Beowulf, Chaucer, the Venerable Bede, on to the works of Shakespeare, the King James Bible, and the like.

The Global Language Monitor tracks the use of words and phrases in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, in social media as well as accessing proprietary databases (Factiva, Lexis-Nexis, etc.).

GLM then assigned a number to the rate of creation of new words and the adoption and absorption of foreign vocabulary into the language. The result, though an estimate, has been found to be quite useful as a starting point of the discussion for lay persons, students, and scholars the world over.

Q.A million sounds like a lot of words?

A.The Global Language Monitor’s estimate of the Number of Words in the English Language, is taking a relatively conservative approach. For example, the Introduction to Merriam-Webster’s 3rd International claims it was limited to the 450,000 words listed in that dictionary, because “the number of words available is always far in excess of and for a single volume dictionary many times the number that can possibly be included”. Many times the 450,000 included words, results in a number far in excess of 1,000,000.  In fact, if you included all the scientific terms, all the jargon, and all the species of like, you could claim tens of millions of words.

Q. So it is rather difficult to estimate the number of English Words.

A. Nearly impossible.  But, of course, you can make the same argument for anything a human being can measure: the number of stars in the galaxy, the number of galaxies in the universe, the number of people on the planet, the depth of the oceans, fish in the sea, moves possible on a chessboard, throughput of the latest supercomputer, amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (and hence predict Global Warming), even the number of planets in the Solar System (Take that, Pluto!).

Answers to questions like these have been settled, from the beginning of the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment, through a number of methodologies, including statistical analysis, and rigidly defining the subjects of study.We see no reason to exclude language from such inquiry.

Q.Did you count variations of words such as run, runs and running as separate words?

A.GLM counts only headwords, so run, runs, and running are only counted once.We do not count the named numerals as separate words, e.g., two hundred twenty-four thousand one hundred ten … one hundred eleven … one hundred twelve.Doing so would result in an infinite number of words since the set of named numerals is infinite.

Q. OK, so what makes English special?

A.The English language is not anymore special than any of the other 6,919 languages spoken on the planet.All languages are of great cultural value and are worthy of study and preservation.What is special about English, however, is the fact that it is has acquired an immense number of words and is the first truly global language.  Of course, Greek was certainly spoken throughout that part of the world conquered by Alexander, as was Latin in the Roman Empire and later throughout Medieval Europe.And French was certainly the language of diplomacy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.However English is the first language to literally span the globe.

Q.How many people now speak English?

A.In 1960, there were 250 million English speakers in the world, mostly in former British colonies; the future of English as a major language was very much in question.Today, English is spoken by some 1.83 billion people as their first, second or business language.

Q.Have your years in high technology influenced your thinking?

A.  When I began in technology what would come to be known as the world wide web consisted of some 138 ‘endpoints’; today there are more than 10,000,000,000, more than one for every person on the planet.

My first computer system, was approximately 80 feet long and weighed hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.Today, you carry all that computational power – and more – in the phone in your pocket, just as your coffee maker is undoubtedly more powerful than all the computer systems aboard Apollo XI.

Q.  What about newly coined words of neologisms.  

A.  In the English-speaking world there is no authority that judges the ‘worthiness’ of words to become an official part of the English Language, which is one reason why English has so many more words than many other languages.  GLM counts a word as entering the language once it appears some 25,000 with the requisite ‘breadth’ and ‘breadth’ in the English-speaking world.