How many words are there in the English language? I’ve seen estimates ranging from as many as 400,000 to a million if all the scientific and technical words are counted. Are we getting to the point where we have too many words? (Also see my post on “The English language is about one half redundant.”)
Previously I’ve mentioned the book “The Mother Tongue: English & How It Got That Way” by Bill Bryson. Bryson makes a case that maybe we’re reaching that point because so many of our common phrases are redundant. For example, beck and call, law and order, null and void, safe and sound, peace and quiet, and hale and hearty suggest our multiciplicity of words is getting in the way of effective communication. And yet… (continued tomorrow).