Reason; as the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief, or conduct

Category: language

“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.” – Gary Provost’s lesson on varying sentence length to create rhythm and flow.


“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know” – Noam Chomsky



Today there are considered to be around 6900 living languages. Although the different word structures of languages like Cantonese (as well as the varying definitions of what constitutes a word) make comparisons of the number of words in a language difficult, English is considered to be the largest. Various major dictionaries place the number over half a million; however, a study by Harvard and Google that analysed over five million books found that the language had over a million words (1,022,000 at the time of the study). They also found that this number grows by around 8,500 words per year. Mind you, if Shakespeare was still writing today it might be increasing faster still. He was attributed, in his published work, as either inventing or first recording around 1700 words.


How to be best understood

According to censuses from 2007, the most recent globally available data, the five most spoken languages, by native speakers, are as follows: Mandarin (935 million speakers); Spanish (387 million); English (365 million); Hindi (295 million); and Arabic (280 million).

The overall figures of how many people speak particular languages (including non-native speakers) are available from 2010 data: Mandarin (1151 million); English (1000 million); Spanish (500 million); Hindi (490 million); and Russian (277 million).