Episode 5: Infiltrators

photo: <a href='http://www.flickr.com/photos/k8s/4842405964/'>k8southern</a>

photo: k8southern

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Creative new words are popping up daily on the internet, in boardrooms and in classrooms. A recent study by Harvard University and Google shows that English has been expanding by 8500 words per year, and it now stands at more than a million. As our lexicon swells, you'd think our vocabularies would be ballooning as well. But it turns out that we use only around 300-400 words in everyday conversation. We'll explore how much we appreciate the value of words.

 

The first stop is the library where we meet up with Marcel Danesi, professor of Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Toronto. He comments on that Harvard-Google study that found the English lexicon has grown by 70 percent since 1950, and nearly half the new words aren't included in print dictionaries -- words we use like deletable, locavor, and Twittersphere, that may or may not stick around. Marcel tells us why words are coming and going faster than ever before. 
 
With this influx of new words into the English lexicon, we wondered how kids are learning vocabulary these days. So we check in with students at an elementary school in Winnipeg. It's a class that includes kids who speak English as a first language, and ones who speak English as an Additional Language.
 
Seriously? Totes. Now that's what I'm talking about! Those expressions are funny, which is why we hear them over and over again. Playwright and TV script writer Drew Carnwath says there's nothing wrong with that. There's a lot of value in simple language, and that's why we use TV lines in our own lives. We just need to know when to draw the line.
 
Rhonda&Michae-WEBBBBB.jpgFinally, we head down to the waterfront, the perfect location to debate the language of romance. Many of us love - and long for - the love letter. But in this age of texting and tweeting, some of that lovely language has been truncated, or tossed out altogether. We ask: is technology is killing the language of romance? We put this question to poet political journalist Michael Smith and new media professor Rhonda McEwan.