Kofi's hat

Kofi's hat

MP3s, music news and reviews, and a sprinkling of pop culture. Named by Aqualung's Matt Hales, after his son.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Ink in my blood, a song in my heart. Metaphor is my middle name.

Friday, June 23, 2006

New Dictionary Words/Most Common Words

According to the Oxford English Dictionary folks, they are "asked all the time", "What is the commonest word?"

Man, that must get annoying. Maybe the last freaking thing you'd want to think about after a long, tough day at the at dictionary office is words. And they're asked that one question, all the time? (I don't know that anyone's ever said "commonest" to me, but I am a Californian and perhaps too common to say "commonest".)

Taking the Oxford English Dictionary staff's word that they really are asked about the commonest word all the time, now they can reply with a hearty "Why, you can find that answer on the World Wide Web, friend!" OED has listed the 100 most common English words found in writing (a-ha! not the same thing as what they're asked all the time. A subtle bit of revenge, that!) They've also listed the top 25 nouns, verbs, and adjectives. What of the adverb? Perhaps the popular adverbs are disclosed in English Uncovered: the hundred commonest English words. It's been issued as a supplement to the Eleventh Edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, which costs £20.

How did they figure out that "the" is the most common word? Surely they didn't sit around and agree that, "Yeah, that one's pretty obvious."

"Based on the evidence of the billion-word Oxford English Corpus", they were able "to identify the hundred commonest English words found in writing around the world". Maybe the supplement contains more information.

Before anyone's overly impressed by that "billion-word" business, consider some of the new words they've allowed into their newly revised, Concise Dictionary this year.

- phrases
best of breed
- any item or product considered to be the best of its kind.

- phrases
the elephant in the room a major problem or controversial issue which is obviously present but avoided as a subject for discussion because it is more comfortable to do so.

I'm pretty sure "best" and "elephant" were already in even concise editions of their dictionary. I hope they haven't been counting it as a new word every time they add a new phrase to their dictionary. If so, they should have been able to get to a billion words long ago.

Other newly-added "words" include identity theft, civil partnership, aerobicized, crunk, pig in the python, plugged-in, keylogging, moblogging, and shoulder-surfing.

Possibly trying to raise a controversy or possibly bringing their fondness for Google Fight to work, OED declares it "still very much a man's world" because "man" is the 7th most common word, "child", the 12th, and "woman", 14th. "Person" trumps all of them at #2. Even if it's true that "woman" is written down less often than "man" -- and neat trick, managing to write "woman" without writing "man"! -- the wannabe-cheeky conclusion that it's a man's world does not necessarily follow. Maybe "women" is written down more than "men". Maybe "woman" is said more often.

Maybe men like to write about themselves and their exciting exploits at work, making money, whereas women are more apt to talk about themselves. And go out crunking a lot.

Most Common Words:

1. The
2. Be
3. To
4. Of
5. And
6. A
7. In
8. That
9. Have
10. I

Most Common Nouns:

1. Time
2. Person
3. Year
4. Way
5. Day

Most Common Adjectives:

1. Good
2. New
3. First
4. Last
5. Long

Most Common Verbs:

1. Be
2. Have
3. Do
4. Say
5. Get

(partial lists - full lists available at AskOxford.com)

The Pursuit Of Happiness - New Language (available on One Sided Story)

The New Pornographers - Miss Teen Wordpower (available on Electric Version)

Ben Folds - Time (available on Songs For Silverman)

Everything But The Girl - Time After Time (available on Acoustic)

Mae - This Time Is The Last Time (Wave Remix) (available on Destination: B-Sides)

New Order - Fine Time (available on Technique)

Mirah - Person Person (available on You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This)

The Five Mod Four - I'm The Funniest Person You Know (available on The Wrens/The Five Mod Four EP)

Kate Bush - The Man With The Child In His Eyes (available on The Kick Inside)

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Honey Child What Can I Do? (available on Ballad Of The Broken Seas)

Josh Ritter - Good Man (available on The Animal Years)

Embrace - All You Good Good People (available on Fireworks: The Singles 1997-2002)

The Kills - The Good Ones (available on No Wow)

The Beautiful South - Good As Gold (available on Solid Bronze - Great Hits)


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