English Language Hits 1 Billion Words

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At least that's what the headlines are saying. In reality, there are now more than 1 billion "entries" in the huge language research database, which is managed by the Oxford English Corpus, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. That's still pretty amazing. These entries contain unique words and combinations of words that have unique meanings, as well as multiple entries for many words when those word have different meanings. With words like wiki, podcast, blog, offshoring and supersize being added all the time, the database is getting bigger by the minute. The corpus is the world's best-funded language research project, costing about $100,000 a year. You might be curious how they'd use that money. Well, they do really important things, such as track the evolution of phrases like "buck naked" to "butt naked." The staff for that one alone probably cost them $25,000. We've yet to convince the corpus to add "flossified," which is an adjective meaning "a really cool fact and one likely to appear in mental_floss."

 

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April 27, 2006 - 7:26am
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