I love English. I love being a native speaker; I love its challenges and its beauty.
It’s hard to know exactly how many words a language has, and English is always evolving to new and stranger fronts. There are over 170,000 words in current use and about 90,000 obsolete. However, the beauty of English is that it can be shaped to express beauty, love, passion, frustration, anger, lust and more in several different ways. Our Thesaurus is the largest of any language and – in the case of some languages – they don’t even have different words for expressions. Talk about calling a spade a spade!
Authors contribute to this. We have the power to change the world of words. In fact creating new words that influence and enrich the English language (no, not your nae nae’s and stuff!) is what we do. This is termed “Authorisms”.
One of my favourite examples is the word Pandaemonium, a word we all know (I would hope). I grew up thinking it meant crazy, busy… something to that end. But did you know it was first made true in literature in 1667 by John Milton? It is the capital of Hell in his epic poem Paradise Lost.
Let’s not also forget: Freelance, Catch-22, Cyberspace and good old Serendipity all created by authors in books and poems.
I don’t know all the words and sometimes I make mistakes because English is such a complex language with so many alternative meanings but, truth be told – English is so much fun. You can mix and swap z’s and k’s and all kinds of stuff for entertainment.
So yay for English! I wonder what it will look like in another 20 years?