Most Recognized Word on the Planet: OK or O.K. or Okay
March 23, 2014. This week is the 175th anniversary of one of the great moments in the English Language: the old Boston Post newspaper printing the phrase ‘oll korrect’, in a bit of humorous wordplay back in 1839.
Earlier this afternoon, we performed a simple Google search for the word; the search returned some 1,200,000,000 references to OK. Not bad for a word no one is quite sure how to spell.
OK is now widely heard wherever one sets foot on the planet.
U.S. President Martin Van Buren (A.D. 1837–1841) was born in Old Kinderhook, New York. His nickname, Old Kinderhook, was incorporated into his re-election campaign slogan in 1840 (“Old Kinderhook is O.K.”). O.K. Democratic Clubs sprung up around the young nation. Van Buren was a founding member of the Democratic Party. (He was overwhelmingly defeated by the Whigs in his re-election attempt.)
Alternative derivations, since disproven, suggested that OK was from the Greek phrase ola kala for ‘all is well’ used in the shipping industry. Another, actually favored by president Woodrow Wilson, was that OK was derived from the Native American language of the Choctaw ‘okeh’.
However, what is well-documented is that the U.S. Presidential Election of 1840 catalyzed OK’s already growing usage and subsequent global expansion during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After World War II, US hegemony cemented its global propagation.
As English became the world’s first, true global language with some 1.83 billion speakers, dominance of the software of the Microsoft Corporation further embedded it everyday use on the Internet. Some 80% of its computer programs that are ‘localized’ into native languages use the English word OK to assert completion or assent.
For good measure, the successful completion of a server response on the World Wide Web (of which there are billions every second) is defined as OK.
Now with the proliferation of social media, the word itself has further evolved with its shortening to the single letter, k.
Number of Words in the English Language: 1,025,109.8 (January 1, 2014 estimate)
The number of words in the English language is : 1,025,109.8. This is the estimate by the Global Language Monitor for 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.
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 1,025,109.8. The above graphic is from the AAAS/Science as reported on NPR.
Google/Harvard Study Validates GLM’s No. of Words in English Prediction
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: 1,019,729.6. 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.
BBC NEWS | Programmes | World News America | ‘Millionth English word’ declared “As expected, English crossed the 1,000,000 word threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 am GMT. However, some 400 years after the death of the Bard, the words and phrases were coined far from Stratford-Upon-Avon, emerging instead from Silicon Valley, India, China, and Poland, as well as Australia, Canada, the US and the UK,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “English has become a universal means of communication; never before have so many people been able to communicate so easily with so many others.”The English language is now being studies by hundreds of millions around the globe for entertainment, commercial or scientific purposes. In 1960 there were some 250 million English speakers, mostly in former colonies and the Commonwealth countries. The future of English as a major language was very much in doubt. Today, some 1.53 billion people now speak English as a primary, auxiliary, or business language, with some 250 million acquiring the language in China alone.
There are 10,000 other stories hailing the arrival of the 1,000,000th word from Abu Dhabi, and Tehran, to Beijing, to Sydney, to Chicago and Sri Lanka. Quote of the Week:
“What’s interesting about a million is that it’s such a tiny number compared to all the words we could have,” said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading who studies the comings and goings of words across history. (Using any combination of seven consonants with two vowels, for example, creates more than 100-million potential words.) But even with a relatively small pile to call on, words are mostly fleeting. (The Oxford English Dictionary has a list of words that have appeared on record only once in hundreds of years.) A small number of essential words such as “two” or “you” – or their variations – are ancients in the language family, Dr. Pagel said. “Had you been wandering around the plains of Eurasia 15,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, you probably could have said ‘thou’ and someone would have know you were referring to them. We think that’s pretty astonishing.” Toronto Globe and Mail, June, 2008
Why Twitter was not in running for the 1,000,000th word Austin, Texas June 13, 2009 – Since the 1,000,000th word in the English announcement earlier this week, a number of news organizations have inquired as to why Twitter, the prominent microblog, was not on the final list of words considered for No. 1,000,000. According to Paul JJ Payack, president and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor, ”The answer is quite straight-forward: Twitter is already a word, as is its companion, to tweet. Certainly, the 21st century definition of twittering is much different than that of the Middle English twiteren, which is similar to the Old High German zwizzirōn, both of which mean, well, to twitter or as Merriam-Webster’s defines it “to utter successive chirping noises” or “to talk in a chattering fashion”. Since it is already catalogued as a headword, 21st c. twittering is simply a new entry, a new definition, under the ancient headword, twitter”. IT Pro Portal Compares 12-month use of twitter vs Web 2.0 On June 10, the Global Language Monitor announced that Web 2.0 has bested Jai Ho, N00b and Slumdog as the 1,000,000th English word or phrase added to the codex of fourteen hundred-year-old language.
Web 2.0 beats Jai Ho & N00b as 1,000,000th English Word
English passed the Million Word mark earlier today, June 10 at 10:22 am GMT Word Number 1,000,001: Financial Tsunami Austin, Texas June 10, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor today announced that Web 2.0 has bested Jai Ho, N00b and Slumdog as the 1,000,000th English word or phrase. added to the codex of fourteen hundred-year-old language. Web 2.0 is a technical term meaning the next generation of World Wide Web products and services. It has crossed from technical jargon into far wider circulation in the last six months. Two terms from India, Jai Ho! and slumdog finished No. 2 and 4. Jai Ho! Is a Hindi exclamation signifying victory or accomplishment; Slumdog is an impolite term for children living in the slums. Just missing the top spot was n00b, a mixture of letters and numbers that is a derisive term for newcomer. It is also the only mainstream English word that contains within itself two numerals. Just missing the final five cut-off, was another technical term, cloud computing, meaning services that are delivered via the cloud. At its current rate, English generates about 14.7 words a day or one every 98 minutes. These are the fifteen finalists for the one millionth English word, all of which have met the criteria of a minimum of 25,000 citations with the necessary breadth of geographic distribution, and depth of citations.1,000,000: Web 2.0 – The next generation of web products and services, coming soon to a browser near you.999,999: Jai Ho! – The Hindi phrase signifying the joy of victory, used as an exclamation, sometimes rendered as “It is accomplished”. Achieved English-language popularity through the multiple Academy Award Winning film, “Slumdog Millionaire”.999,998: N00b — From the Gamer Community, a neophyte in playing a particular game; used as a disparaging term.999,997: Slumdog – a formerly disparaging, now often endearing, comment upon those residing in the slums of India.999,996: Cloud Computing – The ‘cloud’ has been technical jargon for the Internet for many years. It is now passing into more general usage.999,995: Carbon Neutral — One of the many phrases relating to the effort to stem Climate Change.999,994: Slow Food — Food other than the fast-food variety hopefully produced locally (locavores).999,993: Octomom – The media phenomenon relating to the travails of the mother of the octuplets.999,992: Greenwashing – Re-branding an old, often inferior, product as environmentally friendly.999,991: Sexting – Sending email (or text messages) with sexual content.999,990: Shovel Ready – Projects are ready to begin immediately upon the release of federal stimulus funds.999,989: Defriend – Social networking terminology for cutting the connection with a formal friend.999,988: Chengguan – Urban management officers, a cross between mayors, sheriff, and city managers.999,987: Recessionista – Fashion conscious who use the global economic restructuring to their financial benefit.999,986: Zombie Banks – Banks that would be dead if not for government intervention and cash infusion.———————————————————————————————————In addition, the 1,000,001st word is Financial Tsunami – The global financial restructuring that seemingly swept out of nowhere, wiping out trillions of dollars of assets, in a matter of months.
Each word was analyzed to determine which depth (number of citations) and breadth (geographic extent of word usage), as well as number of appearances in the global print and electronic media, the Internet, the blogosphere, and social media (such as Twitter and YouTube). The Word with the highest PQI score was deemed the 1,000,000th English language word. The Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) is used to track and analyze word usage.Global Language Monitor has been tracking English word creation since 2003. Once it identifies new words (or neologisms) it measures their extent and depth of usage with its PQI technology.
English Language Millionth Word Finalists Announced:
Includes alcopops, bangster, de-friend, n00b, quendy-trendy, slumdog, and wonderstar
English to Pass Millionth Word June 10 at 10:22 am GMT
Million Word March Now Stands at 999,824
Austin, Texas May 29, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor today announced the finalists for the Million Word March. The English Language will cross the 1,000,000 word threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 am Stratford-Upon-Avon time.
“The Million Word milestone brings to notice the coming of age of English as the first, truly global Language”, said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “There are three major trends involving the English language today: 1) An explosion in word creation; English words are being added to the language at the rate of some 14.7 words a day; 2) a geographic explosion where some 1.53 billion people now speak English around the globe as a primary, auxiliary, or business language; and 3) English has become, in fact, the first truly global language.”
Due to the global extent of the English language, the Millionth Word is as likely to appear from India, China, or East L.A.as it is to emerge from Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s home town). The final words and phrases under consideration are listed below. These words represent each of the categories of Global English that GLM tracks, Since English appears to be adding a new word every 98 minutes or about 14.7 words a day, the Global Language Monitor is selecting a representative sampling. You can follow the English Language WordClock counting down to the one millionth word at www.LanguageMonitor.com.
These words that are on the brink of entering the language as the finalists for the One Millionth English Word:
Australia: Alchopops – Sugary-flavored mixed drinks very much en vogue.
Chinglish: Chengguan – Urban management officers, a cross between mayors, sheriff, and city managers.
Economics: 1) Financial Tsunami – The global financial restructuring that seemingly swept out of nowhere, wiping out trillions of dollars of assets, in a matter of months. 2) Zombie Banks – Banks that would be dead if not for government intervention and cash infusion.
Entertainment: Jai Ho! — From the Hindi, “it is accomplished’ achieved English-language popularity through the multiple Academy Award Winner, “Slumdog Millionaire”.
Fashion: 1) Chiconomics – The ability to maintain one’s fashion sense (chicness) amidst the current financial crisis. 2) Recessionista – Fashion conscious who use the Global economic restructuring to their financial benefit; 3) Mobama – relating to the fashion-sense of the US First Lady, as in ‘that is quite mobamaish’.
Popular Culture: Octomom (the media phenomenon of the mother of the octuplets).
Green Living: 1) Green washing – Re-branding an old product as environmentally friendly. 2) E-vampire – Appliances and machines on standby-mode, which continually use electrical energy they ‘sleep’. 3) Slow food: — Food other than the fast-food variety hopefully produced locally (locavores).
Hinglish: Chuddies – Ladies’ underwear or panties.
Internet: 1) De-follow – No longer following the updates of someone on a social networking site. 2) De-friend – No longer following the updates of a friend on a social networking site; much harsher than de-following. 3) Web 2.0 – The next generation of web services.
Language: Toki Pona – The only language (constructed or natural) with a trademark.
Million Word March: MillionWordWord — Default entry if no other word qualifies.
Music: Wonderstar – as in Susan Boyle, an overnight sensation, exceeding all reasonable expectations.
Poland: Bangsters – A description of those responsible for ‘predatory’ lending practices, from a combination of the words banker and gangster.
Politically incorrect: 1) Slumdog – a formerly disparaging comments upon those residing in the slums of India; Seatmates of size – US airline euphemism for passengers who carry enough weight to require two seats.
Politics: 1) Carbon neutral — One of the many phrases relating to the effort to stem Climate Change. 2) Overseas Contingency Operations – The Obama re-branding of the Bush War on Terror.
Sports: Phelpsian – The singular accomplishments of Michael Phelps at the Beijing Olympics.
Spirituality: Renewalist – Movements that encompass renewal of the spirit; also call ‘Spirit-filled’ movements.
Technology: 1) Cloud Computing – The ‘cloud’ has been technical jargon for the Internet for many years. It is now passing into more general usage. 2) N00b — From the Gamer Community; a neophyte in playing a particular game; used as a disparaging term. 3) Sexting – Sending email (or text messages) with sexual content.
YouthSpeak: Quendy-Trendy — British youth speak for hip or up-to-date.
French word with least chance of entering English Language: le courriel for E-Mail.
Most recognized English-language word on the planet: O.K.
Each word is being analyzed to determine which is attaining the greatest depth (number of citations) and breadth (geographic extent of word usage), as well as number appearances in the global print and electronic media, the Internet, the blogosphere, and social media (such as Twitter and YouTube). The Word with the highest PQI score will be deemed the 1,000,000th English language word. The Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) is used to track and analyze word usage.
Global Language Monitor has been tracking English word creation since 2003. Once it identifies new words (or neologisms) it measures their extent and depth of usage with its PQI technology.
In Shakespeare’s day, there were only 2,000,000 speakers of English and fewer than 100,000 words. Shakespeare himself coined about 1,700 words. Thomas Jefferson invented about 200 words, and George W. Bush created a handful, the most prominent of which is, misunderestimate. US President Barack Obama’s surname passed into wordhood last year with the rise of obamamania.
It’s difficult to track the number of words in the English language, since neologisms–new words–are coined every day. The Global Language Monitor claims our lexicon will welcome its millionth word by the end of this month; other experts disagree.Whenever it does occur, will the millionth word be something from the business world, like “carpocalypse,” describing the state of the automotive industry? Or from Hollywood, like “momager,” the mother of a celebrity who also serves as business manager? In these stories, we look at our changing language and highlight some of the new words that have entered it.
There are fewer than 100,000 words in the French language;
There are some some 6.5 billion folks on the planet; (and about 20 billion that have ever walked upon the Earth);
Fewer than 20,000 different words in the Bible, (actually, 12,143 in the English, 783,137 total in the King James Version, 8,674 in the Hebrew Old Testament, and 5,624 in the Greek New Testament);
And 24,000 differing words to be found in the complete works of Shakespeare, about 1,700 of which he invented.
Finally, if you emptied all the water out of Lake Tahoe and spread it evenly over all of California it would be about 14 inches deep, Not that anyone would ever attempt to do so. Or actually care.
Which brings us to the number of words in English.
The central idea of writing is, of course, the idea. Ideas by their very nature are wispy sorts of things. This being so, you can’t grab an idea and do with it what you will. Rather the best for which one can hope is to encapsulate the idea and preserve it for time immemorial in some sort of ethereal amber. We call this amber, language; the basic building block of which is, of course, the word. (We are speaking now as poets and not as linguists.)
As such, writers of English have the good fortune of having hundreds of thousands of words from which to choose. When you think of it, the English language writer always has at least three words for any idea, each rooted in the Latin, the Germanic or Saxon tongues, and the Greek. Think of a word for human habitation: city, town, metropolis, and so on. And that’s just the start. In the English-speaking world we also owe a heavy debt to Algonquin, and Hebrew, and Malay (ketchup anyone?) and Maori, and Zulu and Hmong among a multitude of others. I think you can spot the beginnings of a trend here.
And then there is the entire realm of ”jargon,” scientific and otherwise, those specialized patois or vocabularies known only to those in specific fields. Computer-related jargon is multiplying at an extraordinary rate. And since English has become the lingua Franca of the Internet, English words are being created and non-English words co-opted at an ever-quickening pace.
Scientists estimate that there are approximately 10,000,000,000 neurons in a typical human brain. Each of these neurons can theorectically interconnect with all the rest.
This being so, the number of interconnects within a single human brain is greater than the entire number of atomic particles in the universe.
If you equate these interconnects to ideas, or even thoughts, the number of potential words needed to express them is, indeed, staggering on the order of billions and billions of trillions.
This being said, I now unequivocally state that as of the 1st day of January in the year 2012 AD (or CE, whatever your preference), we estimate that there will be some 1,013,913 words in the English language, plus or minus a handful.