Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker

A quick debunking of a language quack

This article is so filled with rubbish I hardly know where to begin. I’ll just crush a bit of the low-hanging fruit:

Snoop Dogg…is credited with a form of rap-speak known as “shizzle.” Credited only by people who don’t know better. He merely popularized it. The “izz” infix is recorded in its current incarnation as early as 1982, when Snoop Dogg was just ten years old. Older, probably independently derived, forms date to at least as early as the 1930s.

The one millionth word is likely to be formed this summer. Absolute twaddle. We’re long past the millionth word of English, no matter how you define “word.” I believe there are millions of chemical names alone. Update: Ben Zimmer has gone into more detail at Language Log, basically saying: you can’t even count how many words there are in English. Like the national debt clock that used to be on Sixth Avenue in the New York City, any count given can only be an estimate. Ben calls the numbers in the Times article “exquisitely silly.”

Chinglish and up to 60 cousins such as Spanglish (Spanish-English), Japlish (Japanese-English) and Hinglish (Hindi-English) owe their rise largely to the internet. Ha! These glishes are all recorded in major language journals and elsewhere decades before the first web browser and before the pre-Web Internet left the labs and universities to become a household utiliity. Perhaps the phrase their rise might permit a begrudging acceptance of this “fact” but I think the many thousands of Puerto Ricans living in New York City before 1970 would disagree about whether, exactly, Spanglish became widely spoken because of the Internet.

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Grant Barrett