‘Jai ho’, ‘Slumdog’ in race to be millionth English word

June 06, 2009

New Delhi, ‘Jai ho’, ‘cuddies’ and ‘slumdog’ are among the 73 other finalists from across the globe to become the millionth English word.

The Global Language Monitor, an Austin, Texas-based firm that analyses and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices with a particular emphasis on English, will choose the millionth word June 10 at 10.22 a.m. GMT.

At present, there are 999,927 words in their ‘English language world clock’.

According to the firm’s site languagemonitor.com, ‘cuddies’ – the Hinglish word for ladies underwear or panties; jai ho – used as a term of praise in Hindi that became popular through the Oscar winning “Slumdog Millionaire”; as well as slumdog – a disparaging description of slum dwellers – are all in the race to becoming the millionth word in the English language.

“The million word milestone brings to notice the coming of age of English as the first truly global Language,” said Paul J.J. Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor.

According to the site, owing to the “global extent of the English language, the millionth word is as likely to appear from India, China or East Los Angeles as it is to emerge from Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s home town)”.

Payack who authored “A Million Words and Counting” also said that there were three major trends involving the English language at present.

“First – an explosion in word creation – English words are being added to the language at the rate of some 14.7 words a day. Second is a geographic explosion where some 1.53 billion people now speak English around the globe as a primary, auxiliary, or business language. Third – English has become, in fact, the first truly global language.”

Other English millionth word finalists are Australia’s alchopops – sugary flavoured mixed drinks; bangster – a Polish combination of gangster and banker, de-friend – Internet lingo for no longer following a friends update on sites, sexting – texting of sexual content, quendy-trendy – British youth slang for hip and up to date, and mobama – relating to the fashion trends of US first lady.

Another word in the list is ‘OK’ – called “the most recognised English word on the planet”.

Global Language Monitor has been tracking English word creation since 2003.

In Shakespeare’s time, there were only two million speakers of English and fewer than 100,000 words. He himself coined about 1,700 words.

Former US president Thomas Jefferson invented about 200 words while George W. Bush created a handful, including misunderestimate. US President Barack Obama’s surname passed into the word list last year with the rise of obamamania.



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