In 2007, digital artist Allison Parrish created @everyword to tweet every word in the English language one word at a time. Parrish wrote a Python script that would run every half hour and tweet each word on an alphabetical list of 109,229 words, based on an unabridged dictionary. (Note that there are over a million words in the English language, and even the exhaustive 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains more than 171,476 words). Based on the 109,229 words, Parrish imagined that the project would be completed in 2013.
Parrish’s inspiration for the project was Every Icon by artist John Simon that attempted to use a 32×32 grid to produce every possible image. In an interview he explains, “I like the idea of art works that deal with arranging mundane units (like pixels or words), algorithmically ‘exhausting’ themselves over a period of time. [@Everyword] began as kind of a snarky stunt—-a parody of (what I perceived to be) the needless verbosity of Twitter. ‘You like posting words on Twitter? Well, here’s a thing that is posting EVERY word! ha HA!'”
@Everyword completed its task in 2014 and even though it had few followers in the early years, it amassed almost 68,000 as it reached the “z” words. Followers were particularly annoyed when @everyword was tweeting the monotonous “non-” and “un'” words. All of that work culminated in the publication of the ebook titled @everyword: The Book. The advertisement for the book reads: “From 2007 to 2014, the Twitter account @everyword painstakingly tweeted every word in the English language to thousands of riveted followers worldwide. Containing all 109,157 words from the original run of the account, along with accurate counts of the number of times each was favorited and retweeted by Twitter users, @everyword: The Book provides an accelerated, ‘director’s cut’ experience of the English language like no other—as well as, in Parrish’s writing on her methods, inspirations, and reactions to the initial reception of her work, a deeply personal look at the intersection of conceptual art and secret humanity.”
A blurb from the Washington Post notes the significance of Parrish’s project: “Surely no one would read through a dictionary this way, index finger underlining each consecutive word — so many of them either mundane (“a”) or trivial (“aalii,” a Hawaiian plant). And yet, since @everyword revved up in the fall of 2007, the account has attracted more than 92,000 followers and inspired a wave of copycats and spin-offs… Parrish suspects her creation is the most widely read piece of conceptual literature in existence.”
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For further reading: @everyword: The Book by Allison Parrish