Monday, November 1, 2004

Would-Be New Logism Day!

(or, Botched Neologism Day!)

I thought I coined a new term today as I was walking to my Providence Bible study -- "igentity" -- but discovered it's already trademarked and branded. This is my third or so foiled neologism.

I once read (in a Vonnegut novel?) that Aristotle was the last man to have read aevery available book in his world. The possibilityt of anyone else doing that shrank exponentially with every passing year after him until our own age when (according to another book I read but can't recall) more information is released in a Sunday edition of the New York Times than was printed in a whole year in seventeenth-century London. The odds of coining a truly new term must similarly decrease the longer the world processes and re-processes the same fields of information, no matter how vast. I'm curious to know if more words are created, even if only for technological and commercial purposes, than are discarded and forgotten, or vice versa. What's the lexical growth rate (of English)?

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