Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | Shawwal 6, 1445 H
overcast clouds
26°C / 26°C

New words, new phrases every year!


Does it matter why we are getting so many new words and phrases each year, irrespective of the language that we use? No surprise, words don’t stop coming, and dictionaries go on adding hundreds of new-fangled words to their pages and online databases every year!

Moreover, it is a complex task to calculate the total number of words across all languages because languages evolve, and additionally, many languages have been lost over time. However, the total number of words in all languages taken together will run into billions! Each language has its own word for it.

Although there are many theories and arguments, language experts claim that English, which incorporates the vocabulary of many languages, has more words than other languages, despite the fact that it is practically impossible to verify.

According to the Global Language Monitor, the English language boasts roughly 1,019,729 words. However, the Korean language, as per Wikipedia claims, has the most words of any language in the world, with 1,100,373 words. This is the single-largest number of words in any dictionary for any language.

So the Korean language must have the most words compared to any other language because, like English, Korean too has been historically influenced by other languages, contributing to its vocabulary. We know that English, being an international language, has absorbed words from other languages.

But the fact is that counting the number of words in a language requires more than dictionaries, as they will never be able to include every word in a language.

Now, let me come back to the beginning. Dictionaries add hundreds of words to their pages every year. Historically, every new era has a set of words associated with it, showing the strangeness of the times we are living in!

Merriam-Webster was quoted as saying that one of the most common questions it is asked is how a new word gets added to the dictionary. The answer, according to it, is simple, “the word gets used”.

During the recent coronavirus era, with isolation and social distancing becoming the norm of the day, we found a large number of new words being introduced to communicate the experiences of the global population effectively.

The year 2023, too, is not different! As the Associated Press remarked while giving a list of new words across the world, “some of the new words are newsy and some are cultural. A couple of them were even kind of delightful!”

Whatever the language, the emotions came through, the news agency remarked. Some might consider AI, or artificial intelligence, as “the” word of 2023, while Merriam-Webster went with “authentic” and Oxford University Press named “rizz,” a riff on charisma, it said in a report.

According to CNN, the word rizz gained popularity earlier this year when Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, in response to a Buzzfeed query about his secret to charisma, stated, "I have no rizz whatsoever. I have limited rizz."

Merriam-Webster added 690 brand-new words, phrases, and acronyms to the dictionary for 2023. The Cambridge Dictionary announced "hallucinate" as its Word of the Year 2023. The announcement followed the tagline, "When artificial intelligence hallucinates, it produces false information."

One of the words that "authentic" beat to emerge as a winner was "deepfake.".

According to Merriam-Webster, interest in the word spiked after Musk's lawyers in a Tesla lawsuit said he is often the subject of deepfake videos and again after the likeness of Ryan Reynolds appeared in a fake, AI-generated Tesla ad. Another lexicon, Collins English Dictionary, went a step further and announced "AI" as its Word of the Year 2023. Collins chose this term because it is considered to be the next great technological revolution, has seen rapid development, and will be much talked about in 2023.

According to an announcement by Collins, the use of the word has quadrupled over the past year.

Although we certainly don’t need to learn all those words and can ignore those that we are unlikely to ever use in our lives, it would be unwise to neglect vocabulary that will help us become functional English speakers, listeners, readers, and writers.

arrow up
home icon