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#2323 - 05/14/00 01:42 PM vocabulary size
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10514
Loc: this too shall pass
Somebody, in a casual aside on one of these threads, asked what the size of an average person's vocabulary is.

4327

Seriously, this is one of those vexing questions which is endlessly arguable (maybe we can do it here). As an approximation, an average high school graduate probably has a vocabulary in the 1000s, 4 years of college gets you to the 10,000s, and if you are a lexicographer (or a verbiphage) you most likely are in the 100,000s -- unabridged dictionaries contain several hundred thousand words; the OED claims more than 500,000.

Why is this arguable? Do you know both of the cleaves? Do you count spelling variants (color/colour)? What about inflected forms? acronyms? etc.

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#2324 - 05/14/00 02:05 PM Re: vocabulary size
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
In term of child development, I read that at eighteen months the average (understandable but not exact) vocabulary is 50 words, at aged 2 it is 200 words and aged 3 around 1,000 words and growing rapidly.


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#2325 - 05/14/00 02:28 PM Re: vocabulary size
David108 Offline
member

Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Thank you, tswum. I was merely speculating on what is essentially an immeasurable concept. It also depends on the level of education, as well as economic factors (that word again!) I'm sure there is no reliable way of measurement.

<Do you know both of the cleaves?>
Interesting that the word has two meanings, that are almost opposed to each other.


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#2326 - 05/14/00 02:32 PM Re: vocabulary size
tsuwm Offline
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>Interesting that the word has two meanings, that are almost opposed to each other.

as was covered here elsewhen, they are actually two distinct words which came to have the same spelling. (I think the thread had to do with words that are their own antonym.)

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#2327 - 05/15/00 07:52 AM Re: vocabulary size
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1026
Loc: Switzerland
You didn't mention the vocabulary size of an average scrabble-player.. In German, this is even more difficult with all the composite words which you can form. During our 9999th game of scrabble I nearly had a fight with my partner because I came up with the word "Leberkost" (liver diet) which was not in the "Duden". I think every editor of a dictionary has to put arbitrary limits here.


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#2328 - 05/15/00 08:29 AM Re: vocabulary size
emanuela Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 315
Loc: Italy - Perugia is a town with...
The vocabulary size can be also an interesting measure of the knowledge of a foreign language ( for me, English).
But what do you mean when you say " to know a word"? It is clear to me that , very often, I know the most simple meaning of a fixed word, but I cannot understand some sentence because there are some other meanings depending on the context.
Ciao
Emanuela


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#2329 - 05/15/00 11:08 AM Re: vocabulary size
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
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>But what do you mean when you say " to know a word"?

sure... multiple senses... another factor(!) of "etc."
:-)

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#2330 - 05/16/00 09:02 AM Re: vocabulary size
Jackie Offline

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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Tsoo-wum, you...actually WROTE...
>this is one of those vexing questions which is endlessly arguable (maybe we can do it here). Great jumping
jellybeans, what are you trying to do?? Start another
beg-the-question thread??


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#2331 - 05/16/00 12:21 PM Re: vocabulary size
AnnaStrophic Offline
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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
>Somebody, in a casual aside on one of these threads, asked what the size of an average person's
vocabulary is.

4327


tsu, I presume you mean a native English-speaker's vocab?


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#2332 - 05/16/00 01:02 PM Re: vocabulary size
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10514
Loc: this too shall pass
>I presume you mean a native English-speaker's vocab?

yes; I presume you know that 4327 is a PIDOMA?

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