On Palaver

I once wondered about the Word Count on these pages. Unfortunately, that cumulative statistic is not on our dashboard, and given the previous 1,335 posts, I loath going through each individual post to determine the sum. There’s also the question of how many different words I’ve used here, but at I’m confident in the fact that this sentence doesn’t contain any new ones.

The Global Language Monitor (GLM) estimated the number of English language words to be 1,019,729.6. Even though that six-tenths of a words bothers me, there is no need to worry because the entire number is obsolete because the same organization states a new word is create every 98 minutes. Because the GLM issued the figure for January 1, 2012, the current count at the time of this post is 1,030,264, but that number is also obsolete depending on the time you read this gibberish.

Photo by Pierre Metivier

Photo by Pierre Metivier

Being that Google seems to want to get their hands into everything, a Google/Harvard Study of Current Number of English Words declares the word count to be 1,022,000. Even though I’m happy with the round number and the lack of a decimal as GLM, I’m not going to quibble about the 0.0121% differential.

To fit my propensity for joviality conviviality on this blog, wordsmiths may want to note that the millionth word was formed on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 GMT. but nobody knows the actual word, which is quite the quandary.

The Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition) contains 171,476 words in current use with another 47,156 words declared as obsolete. For fans of other dictionaries, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged along with its Addenda Section, has a number that is close enough, although I’m not sure it is exact.

Who knows about compound words, which can be a headache because cleanup and clean-up are two distinct words, but clean up is separate two words that aren’t either of the previous two.

Data is a very common word, but when we use it, wordsmiths debate which of the following is correct: The data is accurate or The data are accurate? But the data-are people are unlikely to embrace datum.

When cooking spaghetti, my wife asks for my judgment. She hands me a piece of spaghetti (which is correct), but spaghetti is plural, so would one string be spaghettum or spaghetto? Actually, the latter is correct – but she may prefer judgement over my judgment. Of course, which of those two is correct depends on the dictionary one prefers.

Whereas the printing industry gives us Scrabble gems as em and en. I don’t know if the official count differentiates color from colour, of if it is American English, British English, or whatever. I certainly am not going to worry about if the number includes informal and/or slang words.

However, I’m confident I didn’t grow-up ever using or even hearing words as internet, googled, RAM, ginormous, bytes, jorts, twerk, and many more.  Of course everyone knows that numnah (which should never be confused with numbnuts) is a felt or sheepskin pad placed between a horse’s back and the saddle to prevent chafing. (Merriam-Webster).

Regional differences add confusion, so I’m not going to worry about whether mangos are found with the fruits or vegetables in the grocery store’s produce department; but I knew what do get when Mom asked for one. I also recall a college incident when I mentioned forgetting my toboggan, and then my friend wondered why I was returning to my room to get a sled to wear.

I don’t know if that number of words includes subject-matter specific words. Who knows how many science words exist, especially the medical words, such as a condition that politicians are suffering from – encephaloproctia. Let the record show that I also don’t stay awake at night wondering which is the proper past tense, shat or shitted.

Those who have read this far may still be wondering about the purpose of this post. Some say this is my feeble attempt to write like Archon, well forget that idea! Others may trace this to Oxford English Dictionary awarding Word of the Year to selfie –  Ah heck, I was taking those long before it was a word.

The bottom line is that this post is about words that I’ve never used on this blog. Heck, there are more than a few first-time words in this post. So, your challenge is to find a never-used word (in English) here and use it in a sentence.

Do you remember this famous use of euonym?

.

Palaver: (n) prolonged, aimless discussion

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140 thoughts on “On Palaver

  1. I have a teenage character in my new book who says “crapballs.” Does that count as a never-before-said word? ;)

    I know technically it should be ‘the data are accurate’ instead of ‘the data is accurate,’ but except for a few purists in the science world, I hear few people say that. Just sounds too weird.

    Interesting post, Frank!

  2. Oh, my…you doing this on purpose, aFA?
    First music song title test, and now never used word test…
    It would be a whole lot easier for me if you’d just check that list to see who has been naughty or nice.
    No mistaking which n-word would apply to Jots….

  3. I hope that the “here” that you refer to is this post, and not the entirety of your site, Frank. Here’s my contribution: Woody Allen’s working title for “Annie Hall” was “Anhedonia”, a psychiatric term for the inability to feel pleasure. Coincidentally, something I suffer daily when I’m at The Grind.

  4. The Global Language Monitor on new words: Neologisms must appear a minimum of 25,000 times with the requisite depth and breadth. Breadth is here defined as appearing in all geographies where English is spoken and not be restricted to specific groups of speakers. Depth is here defined a appearing in all forms of media (electronic, print, internet, and any new forms of communication as they emerge).

    For example botanists have named more than 600,000 types of fungi. These are not counted as English-language words unless they emerge into the mainstream, e.g. portabello. And portabello would not be included unless it appeared in all geographies.

    There are currently 1.83 Billion speakers of English as a first. second. or business language.

    Of course, we could round off the final decimal place, however it is a reminder that words are forming continuously the world over, even as we write these words..

    • Paul,
      Fascinating information as I’ve realized for many years that the depth and breadth of information in any and all fields is seemingly endless. Thanks for adding a serious tone to my seemingly intended mundane drivel based on reality.

    • It’s Archon … the King of Palavering himself!

      My toboggan in this story refers to a knit cap Interestingly, I just goggled “toboggan” on Google Images, and I was surprised to see both very early in the results.

      Meanwhile, you didn’t add any new words for me!

      • Have you used erudite, meaning scholarly or learned? If so, how about replete, like sated, meaning overly full, stuffed. My posts are often replete with sesquipedalian (foot and a half long) words.

        I regularly haunt Google, to the point that, when I log in, I get a, “Welcome back Archon” on my screen. I could have Googled “toboggan”, and will when I’m done here, but took the easy way, and just asked the man who knows. :roll:

  5. Great post Frank! Though I have to say ‘selfie’ has to be one of my least favorite words of all times. I don’t know whats more irritating, friends who bombard my phone with pictures taken of themselves at arm’s length, or those who demand that I do the same.
    I’m wondering if you’ve ever used the word ‘apastron’ here…

  6. The data “is”, obviously.
    In regular usage, It bundles pieces into a unit, much like two states “are”, but the United States “is” (though it was “are” until after the civil war).

    • Guapo,
      Not all that long ago I was on a project which demanded “data are” usage … and writing it felt awkward!

      Hope all is well your way. FYI: Time the Musical featuring the Future starts Wednesday evening … and I’m having a holiday bash on Saturday.

  7. I remember moving to TX and hearing my 3rd grade teacher ask “Okay you all, now how many problems do you la.a.a.ck (lack)? My first inclination was to say “I don’t like any of these problems” but then I grew to learn in this region called East TX, all she was asking was “are you all finished yet?” I think my Spanish helped me out, ¿Cuántos les faltan a Uds.” The same in French. Then I remember asking a student in class…in a whisper, of course…as we couldn’t talk in class…where can I get a drink of water? “Oh, over there yonder.” Where in the heck was yonder? So have you ever used “lack” or “yonder” in your posts?

    • Georgette,
      Interestingly, your yonder is an interesting dilemma because I have used it … but only as a proper name … Yep … a baseball player’s first name is Yonder. … But, I say yours counts. Thanks.

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  9. I do not have a word because it completely frustrates me how it is “American and British English”. People seem to either forget or not accept that there is “Canadian English”.

    No offense to the “American” writer here or my British writer friends.

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  11. I feel so numb. “numnah”, we’ve always called it a saddle blanket, or ‘pad’, but I only ride ‘em, not describe ‘em. In regards to the politicians’ disease, ever hear of opticalrectalitis?
    Seriously tho’, my favorite (obsolete) word? Psithurism.
    And BIG Congrats!

  12. Can I offer ‘Shavian’ and ‘wabe’? (Though you could argue neither really counts albeit for quite different reasons.) And now I come to think about it- how about ‘albeit’ ?

      • Shavian is the adjective for (George Bernard) Shaw (as in the Shavian alphabet, which he invented).
        ‘Wabe’ is from Alice in Wonderland:
        “And ‘the wabe’ is the grass plot round a sun-dial, I suppose?” said Alice, surprised at her own ingenuity.
        “Of course it is. It’s called ‘wabe’ because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it -”
        “And a long way beyond it on each side,” Alice added. :)

  13. I’m a dork! I love this post – I read it on my phone and meant to come back to it and I didn;t even realize it was the same one… i need some egg nog. anyways congrats again on the FP – even more so when I realize it was the word post – oh that sounds like – well you know what I mean i hope? bravo! maybe i need less eggnog.. ok now to find the word ;-)

  14. Fantastic observation, Frank! I write and edit reports all day long, sitting thoughtfully in a small corner of academia while decoding university students–What a shift in my language perceptions! They have an entire written and spoken universe that is beginning to seep into my daily vocabulary, creating a whirlwind of mental chaos when I switch into academic language. I do have a “new to me” word I love to throw out. It’s “virality” and speaks to a topic going viral. Throw it out casually and watch others try to figure out if I intended the virility!

    I stopped playing “Words With Friends” because I refused to adapt to what in my mind is a written world gone mad! You are apparently doing a great job of keeping up, Frank. Good for you! I work with “the data are” but I don’t typically include datum. And I don’t care what we use, it never seems to read smoothly! :-)

    • Debra,
      I knew you would enjoy this post, and thanks for your input. I was on a project where the editors demanded data are, (although the client didn’t care and preferred data is). Heck, I may have found an organizational style manual for data is. So I proclaim I would use datum is in a document … and I eventually did … and it was legit! … of course the editors didn’t like that either, besides, I knew they would get their way.

  15. You rock, Frank! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I’m sorry to be so behind on my blog reading. I don’t know how I will ever catch up.

    But strangely, I got an email last night that my post on gift wrapping with trash here in Ecuador is going to be Freshly Pressed tomorrow. I’m excited to be following on the heels of your outstanding post!

    These are the best kinds of Christmas gifts, aren’t they–the FPed variety, I mean?

    Happy holidays, my friend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  16. Hi! I am planning to build up my portfolio to enhance my chances of a new position in technical writing/editing. I remember in elementary school when a teacher took me to all the other classrooms to spell antidisestablishmentarianism, which was at the time the “longest word in most dictionaries” (excluding medical terms, etc.)
    H

  17. Sorry, all, that fourth word in the third line is neither a new word nor a very rare one (unless counted as unique). I’ll use the “bulldog” excuse and blame the laptop for spitting it out. ;-)

  18. Hi Frank, I opened your post with trepidation. The WordPress staff have a propensity for selecting subjects which either distress me or confuse me. I never expected you to entertain me. Thank you – Silent

    • Silent,
      A welcome to a first-timer. Glad you found this post to be entertaining, thus not distressing. And for the record, I don’t think my regulars would call me the distressing type. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  19. Great read Frank :-) Were you aware that the contribution of Indian vernacular in the evolution of the English language is pretty huge? I had no idea common words like cot and bangle have their roots in Indian languages. Even Anaconda! And now there is ‘Hinglish’ :-)
    The FP is well deserved, congratulations!!

  20. Ok, so I miss ONE post, and it gets FP’d. ONE POST.

    But, to my, ummmmm, credit, it didn’t appear like a normal Frank Angle post when I hunted for it and hunted for it …

    Thanks for the heads up, Frank. Congrats, my friend

    You should make this at least an annual event! Although there is more than one FP worthy post per year!

  21. I really can’t think of a word right now. But your post reminded me of a question my daughter asked me recently. She is 5 and a half years old and is currently learning phonics in school. She asks, “Mamma, why does ‘Bee’, ‘Me’ and ‘Pea’ have the same pronunciation but different spellings?” I was at a complete loss!! Can you help answer this in a way that is ‘believable’ even to the elders? :-)

    • Jayantadeepa,
      Welcome first timer. English has many oddities like that. So give this one to your daughter as it is one of my favorites – power mower. Similar spellings, but they don’t rhyme. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  22. In an education conference a fee years ago, we learned about “tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 words. Each ascending level correlates to complication or difficulty level. They gave various examples, such as “the” on tier 1 and “neurological” on tier 3.
    When the presenter asked for more words, i offered “stamalific.” He immediately said “tier 3.” A colleague whispered, “stamalific”? To which i shruggdd, smiled, and said “i made it up.”
    The colleague said, “i guess that’s tier 4.”

  23. Oh, love this post, Frank!! You’ve got some doozies here….is that a word?! I say it is! I remember that spelling bee champ. I will never forget her to this day. Oh, it was so much fun to see her again. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!! Excellent post.

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  25. I suppose it’s really poor form to show up and mumble a disagreement, but… I lived in Liberia for some years, and every village has its palaver hut smack in the middle of the action. While a palaver can be a prolonged, aimless discussion, most of the time it’s highly stylized and meant to persuade the folks listening to come over to your side of the story. The palaver hut functions as a kind of combination courtroom, theater and place for folks to engage in the Liberian version of playing the dozens.

    It is true that “palaver” also can be an almost-synonym for “nag”. I suppose that brings us back around to “prolonged” and “aimless”.

    In any event, it tickled me beyond belief to see the word in your sidebar. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to make palaver with someone. I do believe I miss it!

  26. thanks. i’m obsessed with the exact meaning of words so most of the time i have a really hard time communicating with people. at the same time, i take words apart and create word pictures that i think are jokes or at least funny. like the other day the word equilibrium was used.. my mind went into low gear. i came up with, ”what two schizophrenics argue about when it’s time to take their medication.” get it? equal librium. “hey buddy! you got more than me!” … i think this kind of shit is funny since to me, stupid is funny. well, this example is stupid beyond funny. anyway, between my penchant for exact meaning and trying to create new meanings, words are almost useless to me since, i spend most of my time ‘not listening’.

    • Elburtruk,
      Welcome first timer. Definitely one of the most interesting comments I’ve ever received. If I can summarize, you have a hard time communicating because you don’t listen because you spent so much time breaking down the words … which to me would create a conundrum. But because this post is stupid beyond funny, it was a success … so yes, I think we agree. :)

  27. wull … if it was really a success then, it would have been funny. unless your comment was meant to be stupid so that you’d make me laugh. but i don’t think it was stupid enough to make me laugh. just kidding! along with my penchant for taking words apart to find humor i also tend to take apart sentences and thoughts in order to make them funny. so, i am always throwing shit back at people that catches them by surprise. i love to make people laugh. good humor suspends time; jolts people out of their daily trances then substitutes a thought that’s so completely surprising that it makes them laugh. breaking people out of their every day trance by making the laugh is one of my goals in life. i tend to leave laughter in my wake all day long because of ‘words’. i have no idea what i will say from one moment to the next and i have no idea how or why this happens. it just ‘is’. this started happening to me when i became obsessed with writing four or five years ago. all i can tell you is, i think it’s completely fun. so, ‘stupid is funny’ has its advantages. i also think that sex is a most hilarious subject but that’s another story. thanks for letting me express myself. i hope everything i said is not so beyond stupid as to not be funny. L ks

  28. that’s all i care about … well, i can’t say it’s ALL i care about but, so yes, i think we agree. thanks … ks bad manners but, there are two funny ones at my blogsite under the category palaver … not really .. look under ‘humor’. hope you enjoy … ks

  29. Sorry, Frank. Pulchritude does have a counter intuitive sound to its meaning. Perhaps that’s why it’s so seldom used. I went for it hoping it was making its first appearance on this post.

  30. Appropriate, as it was my first visit to Word Press Reader, and I chose your post out of all the FPs. Must be your meraki – a Greek word meaning creating something with soul, or love. Thanks for your insights and I enjoyed all the interesting comments of others sharing.

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