Twitter account @everyword has finally completed the seven-year effort of tweeting every word in the American English dictionary.
Programmer Adam Parrish set up an automated system when he was a graduate student, which has become a well-known bot on Twitter.
The first message containing the letter “A” was sent back on November 30, 2007, while on June 7, “Zymurgy” finally made its way online, effectively closing in the project. Several extra words were tweeted after the project came to a conclusion, presumably from a programming error that skipped over that part of the dictionary.
The account was actually set up in Twitter’s early days when the network was being criticized about the limited capability to have in-depth discussions. @everyword was created to provide a list of short updates, which were later used to spark conversations and ideas, with each tweet raising dozens of retweets and favorites.
zymurgy— everyword (@everyword) June 7, 2014
In an interview for The Guardian, Parrish said that one of the purposes of the account was to raise the question of whether it was possible to have a canonical list of the English language, pointing out that he had reached a conclusion – it was impossible. “We come up with new words all the time. We have rules about what can and cannot be words and linguists don’t know where to draw the line anymore,” he told the publication.
Parrish plans to keep on going, which means that things are not over yet. In a blog post, he wrote that he’d let the account rest for a bit and run “Season 2.” He’ll start over from the beginning of the alphabet. “Before I do that, I’d like to find a more thorough word list, and also do some programming work so that the bot is less likely to experience failures that interrupt service,” he said.
In the same post, he thanks everyone who has supported the project, the over 100,000 followers that the account has. “It’s a great feeling to have made something that so many people have decided to make a daily (or, uh, half-hourly) part of their lives,” he notes.
While many have told him to stop wasting time and get a job, Parrish said that he didn’t actually spend much time on the project at all. The original programming was most of the time investment and that didn’t take long either. Aside from this, most of the work he does is to fix the account when Twitter messes up.