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#2333 - 05/17/00 03:27 AM Re: vocabulary size
juanmaria Offline

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
Does anybody know if there exist some kind of test that, based on determinate key-words, can calculate roughly the number of words that a person knows?.

Juan Maria.

#2334 - 05/17/00 03:49 AM Re: vocabulary size
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
Stephen Pinker, in 'The Language Instinct', provides a rough method.

Use a standard dictionary a pick out a set of pages at random. List the head words from the definitions from those pages in two columns: one for words that you use confidently; the second for those who meaning you can recognise in context. Multiply up the numbers by the ratio of pages chosen to pages in the dictionary, and you have a rough and ready guide to the words you use, and the words you 'know' (even though you may never use them yourself).

I may have misstated the method slightly so I highly recommend reading the book (which is great in many other ways too).


the sunshine warrior

#2335 - 05/17/00 08:01 PM Re: vocabulary size
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
In David Crystal's "Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language", after discussing the problems involved he gives the figures arrived at by the method described by Shanks:

"An office secretary, a businesswoman (and a voracious reader), and a lecturer all carried out this exercise: their active totals (respectively) were 31,500, 63,000, and 56,250; their passive totals were 38,300, 73,350, and 76,250 -- an average increase of 25 per cent." (page 123)

P.S. would you like to guess which words (not proper names) the spell check didn't recognise?


#2336 - 05/17/00 10:29 PM Re: vocabulary size
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York

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

Nope. What's a PIDOMA?

#2337 - 05/17/00 10:43 PM Re: PIDOMA
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10538
Loc: this too shall pass
Pulled It Directly Outta... ummm... my... uh... Mid-Air; yeah, that's it.


#2338 - 05/18/00 02:00 AM Re: PIDOMA
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
On the other hand. The size of my vocabulary is best described by the word "googol".

How do you pronounce "deluded"?

#2339 - 05/18/00 08:14 AM Re: PIDOMA
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
>Pulled It Directly Outta... ummm... my... uh... Mid-Air; yeah, that's it.<

ohmigawd--where will this END?

#2340 - 05/18/00 02:37 PM Re: PIDOMA
David108 Offline

Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
I plan to use PIDOMA in the next apposite moment in a sales meeting. I'll have to blame somebody, tswum! :o)

#2341 - 05/21/00 02:52 PM Re: vocabulary size
juanmaria Offline

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
I’ve tried with several pages of my ‘Collins Spanish/English’ and, roughly, know 97% of the Spanish words and 80% of the English. That could make some 47,000/40,000 Spanish/English words.
But I think that this method is deceitful because it yields the quantity and not the quality. The English dictionaries are full of words of Greek/Latin origin and I know those words because they are quite similar to Spanish words and a lot of other words are derivations of well known words. For example I could understand ‘onomatopoeia’ and not being able of buying a box of diapers.
Another tricky thing is that when I read ‘onomatopoeia’ I know that it means ‘onomatopeya’ but if some friend asked me what’s the English word for ‘onomatopeya’ I wouldn’t be sure until I find it on a dictionary.
Anyway, that test has improved my mood. In 'Dirty Harry' words 'Has made my day'.

Juan Maria.

#2342 - 05/22/00 06:07 PM Re: PIDOMA
Rubrick Offline

Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
The same way you spell 'fib', jmh!

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