The Speed of Language

As I drifted off to sleep the other night I found myself reminded of Yakko Warner’s attempt to sing all the words in the English language.

So how long would it take to actually sing all the words in the English language? Well, there is no definitive number of words in the English language, it is somewhere between 500,000 and 2 million once you include regional and specialist words.

So let’s go for 1.2 million as a sustainable compromise figure. So if it takes an average of 1 second per word, singing 1.2 million nonstop would take about 14 days.

So you, or more likely a robot, could reach the end of the English language in 14 days. But would you? Or are new words created so fast that you would never reach the end?

What is the speed of language? I have a mental picture of a little car, driven of course by a bear, speeding down a road made up of words at 1 word per second. Does the bear ever reach the end?

What speed does the bear need to travel at to reach the end? How vast would the language be to require the bear to drive at the speed of light?

And which is the fastest language?

These are the things which occupy my mind as I fall asleep. Pity me.


One thought on “The Speed of Language

  1. Pity you? This type of pre-sleep meandering suggests to me an excellent state of mind, in which no end of bear-related creativity could occur.

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