Are there really 988,968 words in the English language?
Correction, May 16: This piece originally stated that GLM proclaimed that there are exactly 988,968 words in English. In fact, GLM's site, while giving an exact figure, does state that it is merely an estimate. Also, the Slate podcast that accompanies this piece originally stated that GLM sent out press releases about its word count; in fact, the company did not do so. (Return to the corrected sentence.)
Jesse Sheidlower is editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary. A thoroughly revised edition of his book The F-Word will be published this fall.
Photograph of dictionary © Royalty-Free/Corbis.