Sarah Palin may actually be right for once! After people teased her about her freakish creation of the word “refudiate,” she tweeted, “English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!” Gov. Palin’s efforts are part of the new growing English language that is set to outlast a lot of foreign tongues. The Belfast Telegraph reports that “the vocabulary is expanding by 8,500 words a year” and quotes a Cambridge professor who said that we will “lose half of the world’s languages in the next 200 years.”
Apparently we are in a major age of vocabulary transformation:
Professor David Crystal, author of Evolving English, says vocabulary growth is never steady but depends on new concepts in society. “There was a peak in Shakespeare’s time around the Renaissance, another during the Industrial Revolution, and another peak now with the Electronic Revolution,” he says.
But judging by Oxfords “best new words of 2010” list we’re not sure we want anymore words. The aforementioned “refudiate” topped the list. Other additions like “gleeks”, “webisode,” and “vuvuzela” make us cringe and hope that 2011 will usher in some good ones.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 3, 2011