I know I told you I was going to give you another of my 10 ideas on writing great email.
But I got distracted.
When I was a kid, we called this daydreaming. But now, it’s labeled ADD.
So, while I was…um…daydreaming, I StumbledUpon this website.
And that got me thinking about how wonderful words are.
Now, I typically apply Occam’s Razor to my writing, which essentially states that among all possible solutions, the simplest one is best. So I choose words that simply and clearly describe my idea.
But I also appreciate reading about things I don’t really understand. Like physics and economics. I learn new words, and new ways of looking at the world.
Plus, words can be fun! Long words are puzzles and poems in themselves. And we have a heck of a lot of words available to us.
In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words, plus around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries.
Over half of these words are nouns, about a quarter adjectives, and about a seventh verbs. The rest are exclamations, conjunctions, prepositions, prefixes, and suffixes.
And those don't include entries with senses for different word classes, like a word that’s both a noun and an adjective.
This suggests that there are at least 250,000 distinct English words.
Add to that inflections, technical terms, idioms, regional vocabulary, and new words not yet in the published dictionary. The total would be close to 750,000! Whew!
Our prolific pal Shakespeare, used about 31,500 words in his plays and poems. According to statistical reasoning, there were about 35,000 words that he knew but didn’t use. So, it’s likely Shakespeare knew around 66,000 words.
How many words do you and I know?
In his book The Language Instinct, Stephen Pinker tell us about researchers who figured the average American high-school graduate knows around 45,000 words. But the researchers didn’t include proper names, numbers, foreign words and acronyms. Pinker feels that if these types of words were included, the total would be about 60,000.
Words are wonderful! Acronyms, idioms, technical jargon, math and science equations, and texting symbols are all part of our incredible lexicon.
So, I encourage you to learn new words every day. Then, use those words with intention.
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
- attributed to Albert Einstein
Things we like.
If you like to play Fictionary, or find yourself in a state of lethologica you’ll like this handy resource.
Things to ponder.
If you’re a cruciverbalist or you’re going to dringle this afternoon, you’ll like this.