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Old 05-12-2013, 04:35 PM
panache45 panache45 is online now
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Neologisms (new words)

Does the number of (English) neologisms remain constant over the years, or, as I strongly suspect, does it grow exponentially?
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Old 05-12-2013, 04:53 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Wouldn't it be counter to that? The more words we have, the less need for new ones. It's not like they reproduce, after all...
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:02 PM
moriah moriah is offline
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Wouldn't it be counter to that? The more words we have, the less need for new ones. It's not like they reproduce, after all...
Portmanteaus are rather randy.
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:06 PM
panache45 panache45 is online now
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Wouldn't it be counter to that? The more words we have, the less need for new ones. It's not like they reproduce, after all...
I don't follow that logic at all. Our society is more complex than 100 years ago, especially related to technology. Plus, slang is constantly being created, and sometimes making it into mainstream speech.
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:19 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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I suppose you could count the lists of new words added to the OED from one year to the next, but I lack the patience to do so.
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:53 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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I suppose you could count the lists of new words added to the OED from one year to the next, but I lack the patience to do so.
According to your link, last summer the OED recognized "quantitative easing" as a new word. Apparently I don't know what "word" means.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:00 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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What the OED means are lexical entries. That is, it's anything that should have a separate entry in a dictionary. Since "quantitative easing" means something that's not obvious from the words "quantitative" and "easing," it's a separate lexical entry.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:41 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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I expect that the number has grown, but not exponentially.

I don't see any good way of establishing this, though. Dictionaries do have editors that look for new words, but historically they have depended on a legion of volunteers who sent in examples. Obviously the more eyes looking at more diverse work the better.

Word finding hasn't been consistent. There were times when more people were more actively involved and periods - wars, for example - when there were fewer. Where to look for words also has evolved. Early dictionaries concentrated on literary fiction and essays as sources. The OED always had huge difficulties finding people who were knowledgeable about specialized and technical vocabularies. Slang was usually avoided, as were vulgar terms.

We look at many more sources of word formation than ever before. And there are physically many more places to write out words. That has more of an effect than sheer quantity. Words only make it into the dictionary when they are used regularly over a period of years. The more places to write words, the more likelihood that they will stick and be found over a period of time. It's impossible to know how many words were coined in the past that had fleeting lifetimes, few uses, or appeared in places not consulted.

It gets worse. What is English? The OED had huge controversies over including Americanisms. The editors did include some terms from Indian-English and Canadian-English and all the other Commonwealth Englishes, not to mention Scottish, Irish, and Welsh Englishes, but was never comprehensive about them. In today's world, where English is the common tongue, there must be many terms Americans rarely see, but that was also true in the past and there's no way to determine to what extent.

So the recorded number of neologisms may be vastly higher, but the base is surely wrong to possibly an order of magnitude. There's no one-to-one correspondence to measure from.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:40 AM
MacLir MacLir is offline
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These folks said it better than I can -

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. - James D. Nicoll -

English is the result of Norman men-at-arms attempting to pick up Saxon barmaids and is no more legitimate than any of the other results. - H. Beam Piper -
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Old 05-13-2013, 03:32 PM
JBDivmstr JBDivmstr is offline
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Originally Posted by MacLir View Post
These folks said it better than I can -

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. - James D. Nicoll -

English is the result of Norman men-at-arms attempting to pick up Saxon barmaids and is no more legitimate than any of the other results. - H. Beam Piper -
Great quotes!
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"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:07 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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To be fair, any analysis of the new words must also looks at abandoned words, i.e., those which are no longer being used.
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:41 AM
chappachula chappachula is offline
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To be fair, any analysis of the new words must also look at abandoned words, i.e., those which are no longer being used.
Yes, but as soon as you discuss an abandoned word, it's being used again.
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:48 AM
FUTBOL! FUTBOL! is offline
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Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
Does the number of (English) neologisms remain constant over the years, or, as I strongly suspect, does it grow exponentially?
The word you're searching for regarding the theory is dic-doubla-growthfulness.

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Old 05-14-2013, 04:06 PM
Nava Nava is online now
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Originally Posted by chappachula View Post
Yes, but as soon as you discuss an abandoned word, it's being used again.
And also a word which had been classified as "archaic" may turn out to have become a "regionalism" instead, or one of its meanings is archaic while others are in perfect health.
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Old 05-14-2013, 04:48 PM
etv78 etv78 is offline
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And also a word which had been classified as "archaic" may turn out to have become a "regionalism" instead, or one of its meanings is archaic while others are in perfect health.
So you're saying some words have perfectly cromulent uses?
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:10 PM
Didact Lectorem777 Didact Lectorem777 is offline
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Originally Posted by moriah View Post
Portmanteaus are rather randy.
What would that be? random+handy?

Unless its not actually a portmanteau. NOAD defines "randy" as such

1 informal sexually aroused or excited.
2 Scottish, archaic (of a person) having a rude, aggressive manner.

So...ah...portmanteau's are sexually aggressive? Or rudely excited?
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:06 PM
moriah moriah is offline
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Originally Posted by Didact Lectorem777 View Post
What would that be? random+handy?

Unless its not actually a portmanteau. NOAD defines "randy" as such

1 informal sexually aroused or excited.
2 Scottish, archaic (of a person) having a rude, aggressive manner.

So...ah...portmanteau's are sexually aggressive? Or rudely excited?
The fact that they're two words getting it on with each other.
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