As English grows in size, knowledge becomes more important

December 21st, 2010 by Emily

If you've noticed an extraordinary amount of new English words in use over the past few years, you've noticed one of the most striking phenomena to hit the language in recent memory.

The English language has doubled in size over the last century, giving it an unprecedented level of growth.

That's according to a new survey by Harvard University and Google, who have found that the language is expanding by 8,500 words a year.

There are now 1,022,000 words in the English language and it has grown by more than 70 per cent since 1950.

With this unprecedented level of growth, it can be hard to keep up. An English tutor can provide the skills needed to communicate with poise and aplomb.

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

In the previous century, according to researchers, the English language only grew by a tenth.

Now, the rapid rate of growth in the English language means that we need to understand new words on an almost daily basis.

Importantly, many of these new words are not included in the official dictionaries. Linguists class these as slang or made-up jargon.

The challenge for students of the English language, then, is to learn how to separate 'good' new words from 'bad' new words.

Sorting the source

It may sound obvious, but for many younger students of the English language, this is an important point. The source of the new word you have just learnt can help to identify whether this word is suitable for use in formal and written communication or not.

For example, many children may use a word they have heard on TV in an essay at school. If that word is slang, or even rude, then they will be penalised for it.

On the other hand, by reading quality journalism and good books, children can be exposed to 'good' new words as they become part of everyday English.

The new word challenge

The challenge, then, as speakers of an ever-growing language, is to encourage pupils and students to use new words only when they have seen them used in a reliable source and in an appropriate context.

If you or your child needs help getting to grips with our changing English language, why not enlist the services of one of specialists? Simply search our database for a tutor near you.

Categories: Research, English