Apparently, Paul J.J. Payack of The Global Language Monitor is predicting that the 1,000,000th word in English will be coined this year, specifically on April 29. Lots of media outlets have been reporting on it, some of which are linked to from the Language Monitor's Web site. Meanwhile, the linguists at The Language Log say it's a whole lot of bunk, and that journalists are silly for paying it attention:
Gullible reporters keep falling for a self-aggrandizing scam perpetrated by Paul J.J. Payack, who runs an outfit called Global Language Monitor. As regular Language Log readers know, Mr. Payack has been trumpeting the arrival of "the millionth word" in English for some time now. In fact, he's predicted that the English language would pass the million-word mark in 2006... and 2007... and 2008... and now 2009.
John McIntyre of You Don't Say tends to agree, and adds that the whole idea doesn't really matter:
I suppose it has something to do with the journalistic fascination with impressive but essentially meaningless numbers. Think of anniversary stories, a newspaper staple. If it is one year or 10, 25 or 50 years since a particular event, you can count on reading about it. ...
It’s of no consequence to me whether English has a million words or 900,000. I’m more interested in what people do with them.
I'd say that's about right. (And I wholeheartedly agree that newspapers love meaningless numbers.)
But read up and decide for yourself. The Language Log entry talks about why they think it's a dumb idea and links to earlier posts about the issue. Payack responded to the latest entry in the comments.
(Hat tip to John McIntyre for posting about this, which was the first I'd heard of it.)