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English to welcome one-millionth word
Latest Updated by 2006-02-07 09:48:40
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CHAMPIONS of the English language are about to mark a momentous point in its 1,500-year history: the creation of its millionth word, the Queensland-based Sunday Mail reported.

The growing use of Chinglish (Chinese-English) and dozens of other ethnic hybrids has pushed the number of words in the language to 986,120, says Paul Payack, a Harvard-educated linguist monitoring its growth.

Chinglish terms include "drink tea", meaning closed, derived from the Mandarin Chinese for resting; and its opposite, "torunbusiness", meaning open, from the Mandarin word for operating.

While some are amusing, others are abrasive. Disabled people's toilets in Beijing are marked "deformedman" and in Hong Kong a "kweerboy" is a homosexual.

Payack, who works for Global Language Monitor, a San Diego-based consultancy, said 20,000 new English words were registered on the company's databases last year - twice as many as a few years ago. About 20 percent were in Chinglish.

According to Payack, the millionth word is likely to be formed by mid-year, confirming the domination of English in the global linguistic order.

"Global English is no longer just dominated by either British English or American, but is running free and developing uniquely regional forms," said Payack.

Chinglish and up to 60 cousins such as Spanglish, Japlish, and Hinglish (Hindi-English) owe their rise largely to the Internet. Thanks to its influence, a language that evolved in Anglo-Saxon England now reaches billions of homes in the developing world, where it is transformed for local taste while remaining recognizably English.

Payack's databases are compiled by computers searching sources such as newspapers, television programs and Internet blogs.

He claims to have identified a "tipping point" in 1994, when the trickle of new English words became a flood. Mosaic, the first user-friendly Web browser, was invented about the same time.

English has triumphed because it is open to change, Payack said.

David Crystal, the author of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, said the statistics spoke for themselves. "In the 1960s, 250 million people spoke English, but now it's closer to two billion, or one in three people in the world," Professor Crystal said.

"But there is debate about where it goes from here. Does it splinter into a loosely connected family of English languages, which become mutually incomprehensible again, like old Latin, or do we develop a standard global English that can be understood by all? We don't know what will happen."

Editor: Wing

By: Source: Szdaily web edition
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