In schools across the world, and of course in Burnaby, literacy is a primary focus. Learning to communicate in the English language is no easy feat. There are just so many words. “The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries. Over half of these words are nouns, about a quarter adjectives, and about a seventh verbs; the rest is made up of exclamations, conjunctions, prepositions, suffixes, etc. And these figures don’t take account of entries with senses for different word classes (such as noun and adjective).
This suggests that there are, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the OED, or words not yet added to the published dictionary, of which perhaps 20 percent are no longer in current use. If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million WORDS. (/oxforddictionaries.com/words/how-many-words-are-there-in-the-english-language)
Those may be fascinating facts, but the real challenge is putting even just a few words together to say something beautiful, educational, powerful, thought provoking or profound. Our teachers and educational support staff work with students each day to help them find their voice through the written word. As someone who writes publicly I know it can be a challenge to get the words just right. I know it is a risk when you write and share your ideas. But I also know that it is a gift that you give the world.
For 27 years the district’s WORD Writing Project has celebrated our best student writers by publishing an anthology of their works. It is a project that is unique to Burnaby, and just one of the many ways that we help engage our learners and inspire future authors. The students’ words in this anthology are thought provoking, entertaining, educational, and just plain fun. But most importantly they demonstrate excellence in literacy – and I want to thank them for their gift of sharing their words – and invite you to read them and experience for yourself the power of their words.
We all have voices. And we all have stories to tell – and those that need telling. I encourage all of Burnaby’s students to keep on writing – for the written word has the power to change the world for the better and has done so throughout human history.