The I Word
During a recent facebook deterioration, on social issues, someone posted a 410 word statement. PG noted the promiscuous use of first person singular. A study ensued.
1- I, or verb contractions using I, occurs 27 times in this statement.
2- I was used in the first seven sentences. The eighth sentence did not have I, but did contain me.
3- The tenth sentence does not have I, but does contain my. These are the only two sentences without I.
4- The last sentence has I five times. The first two have I three times each. Six sentences use I two times.
5- There are 410 words in this statement. There are 15 sentences. Six percent of these words are I.
6- I is the shortest word in the English language. It is also possibly the least important.
Many people use the word I too often. The use of this word implies that the listener is interested in what the speaker thinks or does. When someone says I, the lips are usually moving. I is the central letter in both lie and believe. (As another FBF noted, I statements can be useful.)
This does not take away the controversy over what word, in the language, is the shortest. A British facility, the Daily Mail, ran a story,The shortest word in English? Depends on how you measure it
Q. We all know that the longest word in the English language is Floccinaucinihili-pilification,(Spell check suggestion:Oversimplification) meaning inconsiderable or trifling. But what is the shortest word in the English language?
A. This is a controversy that has divided the English-speaking community for more than a century. One faction, headed by Dr Robert Beauchamp from the Oxford English Dictionary, believes that the shortest word in the English language is ‘a’, while another faction, headed by Professor Melanie Kurtz from Chicago University, contends that it is ‘I’.
In his most recent book on the subject, Further Arguments In Favour Of A (OUP, £19.99), Dr Beauchamp claims that, though ‘I’ is arguably the thinnest word in the English language, ‘a’ is the shortest, in the sense that it is not as high.
Professor Kurtz, on the other hand, has argued in a number of pamphlets that, if one unravels the various loops and curls that form a single ‘a’, and stretch it into a single horizontal or perpendicular line, then the letter in question is undoubtedly longer than ‘I’.
Meanwhile, dissident scholars continue to argue the case for ‘o’ and for small ‘i’, though in broader academic circles the first is generally dismissed as not really a word and the second is felt to be questionable: they maintain that the gap between the little dot and the main body of the word/letter is a constituent part of the whole and cannot be discounted when it comes to the full measurement.
One of the comments is highly repeatable. “is it true…..the shortest sentence is ..I am. and the longest sentence…I do.?” – Tommy Atkins Blighty, 02/10/2009 18:45
In the digital age, capital letters are used less and less. If the lower case i is used as a first person singular, then it is both the shortest and the skinniest. The dot on the lower case i is known as the tittle. It is not known what the tittle thinks of the jot, or whether they believe each other.
For those not suffering platitude fatigue, here are the 21 Most Important Words in the English Language. The most important word: We ~ The two most important words: Thank You ~ The three most important words: All is forgiven ~ The four most important words: What is your opinion ~ The Five most important words: You did a good job ~ The six most important words: I want to understand you better ~ The least important word: I.”
A site called vocabula has a feature on the worst words in english. There are two phrases using I.
I mean Meaningless formula (a verbal tic, if you will) used habitually by many to begin nearly every sentence, especially those that are not intended to clarify anything preceding them. I need you to … A completely unacceptable replacement for “please.”
Since we cannot say, for certain, that I is the shortest word in the language, the uncertainty about the longest word should not be surprising. The longest word in German would be a short story by itself. According to Los Angeles Trade-Technical College “The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis. The only other word with the same amount of letters ispneumonoultra-microscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural.” (Spell check suggestion:ultramontane-microscopicsilicovolcanoconioses)
Part two of this feature is a repost. It is about a popular contender for the longest word, which is known here as The S Word. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.
There is a feature today on NPR discussing ” “What’s The Longest Word In The English Language?”. The old crowd pleaser antidisestablishmentarianism was dismissed as “Just a bundle of suffixes and prefixes piled up into a little attention-grabbing hummock.” It also has 28 letters, which won’t even get it into the playoffs.
When it comes to big words, there is nothing like science. In 1964, a book called “Chemical Abstracts” published a 1,185 letter word, referring to a protein found in the tobacco mosaic virus. It starts with glu and ends with sine. This word is 8.44 tweets long.
Words like glu…sine are not used often, which brings us to the obvious winner, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It is the theme song for a dance routine in a movie starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke , and a few dozen animated characters.
According to the urban dictionary, Miss Andrews was not fond of Rob Petrie. “It’s reported that Ms. Andrews replied, “Fuck you! I hate you!! You’re a ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidouchebag’!!!! And get away from my door!! Why don’t you go eat “A Spoonful of Feces “!!!” (This problem might have been caused by SupercalifragilisticexpiHalitosis )
At 34 letters, the s word is the longest english word that most of us have heard of. While it probably was made up by over-imaginative songwriters, it is defined by a reputed dictionary. It translates as superkalifragilistikexpialigetisch (German), supercalifragilistichespiralidoso(Italian) and supercalifragilisticoespialidoso (Spanish). The French are too cool to use it.
A website called Straightdope has a highly entertaining feature called Is “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” a real word referring to Irish hookers? . “Our research first took us to a lawsuit that was filed after the movie came out by Life Music, Inc., against Wonderland Music, the publisher of the Mary Poppins song. It was a copyright infringement suit brought by Barney Young and Gloria Parker, who had written a song in 1949 entitled “Supercalafajaistickespeealadojus” and shown it to Disney in 1951. They asked for twelve million dollars in damages. The suit was decided in the Shermans’ favor because, among other reasons, affidavits were produced from two New Yorkers, Stanley Eichenbaum and Clara Colclaster, who claimed that “variants of the word were known to and used by them many years prior to 1949.”
The decision makes for fairly humorous reading. Apparently the judge got tired of writing out the whole word, so every time it had to be mentioned it was replaced by the phrase “the word” as if it were some loathsome artifact that had to be held at arm’s length. “
There is another story that has the s word appearing in a humor magazine at Syracuse University. An archivist named Mary O’Brien says that rumor surfaces every ten years or so, and is not true. Another old husbands tale has children in summer camps taught a song super-cadja-flawjalistic-espealedojus. This cannot be confirmed or denied.
As for the tale about Irish entrepreneurs , there is a story in Maxim magazine. It says “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, the word supposedly coined by Mary Poppins to make kids sound “precocious,” was actually invented by turn-of-the-century Scottish coal miners. It was used to request “the works” from prostitutes by men too shy to recite specific acts.” The link supplied by StraightDope does not work.