It seems impossible that I could sit here and stare at a blank page and not know how to begin. It was estimated on January 1, 2014, there were 1,025,109.8 words in the English language. (There really is an organization that figures these things – Global Language Monitor). You would think that with that many words to chose from – I only want 500 – it would be impossible to sit and stare at a blank page.
And now that I’ve put those words on this page, it’s no longer blank and I’m on my way to meeting my goal for the day. Knowing I have more than a million words to chose from and each of them is simply a few keystrokes from being made visible, meeting my goal is a piece of cake.
But as I type a few more of those words, a thought becomes prevalent in my mind, a staggering thought, a monumental thought, a huge question. All caps is suggested. WHY ON EARTH IS THERE AN ORGANIZATION CHARGED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF COUNTING THE NUMBER OF WORDS IN A LANGUAGE, EVEN IF THEY ONLY CLAIM TO MAKE AN ESTIMATE?
Why is it important to anyone how many words there are? Is there a practical significance to that number? Is there a statistician somewhere who is keeping track of the number of words we use so that someday if we ever should be called before Noah Webster in the sky, we can account for our verbosity or lack thereof?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but the implications are staggering. Just think about it. You are sitting before an editor of the Chicago Tribune applying for a job at the newspaper and he reads a report in your file and says, “I’m sorry, your word count isn’t up to par. At our paper, we only consider writers who’ve used twice the words you have. Go out and use some more. Come back when you think you’ve got an appropriate number.”
How does that make you feel? I mean, you passed all your classes in college. Got decent grades. No one every questioned the number of different words you were using. The final number was important, because they expected a certain number of pages on each paper. But the word choice themselves? As long as you threw in a few words you had heard the professor use in class, you were safe.
But now that I know, I guess it’s a good thing I stared at a blank page for a while. I guess it’s good that I wondered about how I could possibly not be able to type at least one of those many words for a while. It made me wonder exactly how many words were in the English language that I could chose from to end the perpetual blank page syndrome. And in wondering, I researched the issue, (via Google) and I discovered something that will be of incredible value tomorrow when I again face a blank page. I have more than a million words to chose from. How can I possibly go wrong?