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So how many words do you know?


Road Runner
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3 hours ago, Road Runner said:

On a game show I saw this morning, they said a study of some sort had reported that the average American has a vocabulary of 50,000 words.  :o

This seems high to me.  I have trouble remembering the alphabet, which is only 26 things, I think.  

Then Ken said that another study reported that it takes the average brain about 600 milliseconds to retrieve one of those words from storage.  This may be true for Ken, but he and I have vastly different brains.  :huh:

I totaled up all the words that actually came to me in 600 milliseconds or less, and it came to only 74 words.  :(

This is uber scientific. I'm not that motivated to self-test. B)

Maybe average American is for those who have completed high school? 

I would love to have MoseySusan give an opinion since she taught English  lit/media in HS.

My thought is literate kids, meaning those who can read a pure textual book from beginning to end over 50 pgs. long, are exposed to more words than we were but it's a different style of written literacy. What may be missing nowadays, is whether or not they can spell correctly and integrate proper grammar in their sentences. Unfortunately iphone email, twitter, etc. encourages alot of shorthand phrasing and acronyms. That's ok if you're in a hurry or you are communicating with someone who you know very well. Not great for the rest of the world with strangers.

That's why some people hate  blogging / don't understand blogging:  it forces you to write in full sentences and paragraphs in hopefully a logical train of thought or persuasive argument.

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1 hour ago, Road Runner said:

the average American has a vocabulary of 50,000 words.

In that case, I'd guess I know a about 10,00 words, if that many.... most engineers don't worry too much about words...  math and science was my passion. 

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19 minutes ago, Bikeguy said:

In that case, I'd guess I know a about 10,00 words, if that many.... most engineers don't worry too much about words...  math and science was my passion. 

I am the opposite --I love wordplay. In my teens, I used to pick up Roget's Thesaurus and look up a word, usually an adjective or adverb. Then think of a poem that used that word   --usually it sparked an image to kick off the poem.  

I took 3 years of Latin in HS and each class lesson, at the end, we also learned/confirmed any English word derivations. 

From an academic, scholarly standpoint, the English language and history of its word/word variations is captured in the 20+ volume set ...now database for decades. I too, found it incredible to skim over the historic use and permutations of some words and how they evolved.  It's human  beings and how their thinking /attitude changes or stays the same for word meaning.

I never thought ..but even my present job requires finding proper word use  in corporate standards, is key.  So that depts. can head off in the right direction on how information can be tagged/ found  easily....which means what words a person uses.

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7 hours ago, Road Runner said:

On a game show I saw this morning, they said a study of some sort had reported that the average American has a vocabulary of 50,000 words.  :o

This seems high to me.  I have trouble remembering the alphabet, which is only 26 things, I think.  

Then Ken said that another study reported that it takes the average brain about 600 milliseconds to retrieve one of those words from storage.  This may be true for Ken, but he and I have vastly different brains.  :huh:

I totaled up all the words that actually came to me in 600 milliseconds or less, and it came to only 74 words.  :(

That's surely WAY too high.  It's true that the English language has more words than any other language - many of them synonyms or slang.

It may be what this quote is about right.  It may be that the average person RECOGNIZES (passively) 50,000 words, but can use much fewer in his/her own speech.

If a Frenchman says, "Impossible!" it's pronounced much differently than in English but most English spearkers would recognize it.

Google search: According to lexicographer and dictionary expert Susie Dent, “the average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker is around 20,000 words, while his passive vocabulary is around 40,000 words.”

 

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1 hour ago, Bikeguy said:

very interesting...I scored in top 5% @22,817.

I didn't agree with some of the word pairs  ie.  synonym  above similar to over ??   or widow similar to dowager   Well, I guess the latter is widowed aristocrat. 

 There were  some test words I still don't know what they meant...I don't consult dictionaries. (and I didn't do it for this test. I went through the tests like a drill.)   I believe my vocabulary simply has been from reading certain types of prose/essays.... um, maybe 30 yrs. ago. After I finished my English literature university degree, my head  was exhausted. I actually don't read novels much anymore.  I do read healthy amount of non-fiction articles /news/books and critiques.

For myself, reading technical stuff is more on specific software procedures and then rephrasing it so it meets how we use different  software in our organization  for other employees to learn from a business perspective.....for any job I've had. That's my "technical" reading so maybe that's the difference between yourself and I. I don't read any other technical works.

 

 

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1 hour ago, MickinMD said:

Google search: According to lexicographer and dictionary expert Susie Dent, “the average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker is around 20,000 words, while his passive vocabulary is around 40,000 words.”

 

When we communicate with one another, we also adjust our vocabulary to the audience to be understood and accepted.  That's why our vocabulary wouldn't grow hugely ....unless one is presenting at an academic conference or writing in an academic journal or a well-written current events/issue magazine.  Otherwise, use of obscure words would turn off alot of people in conversation.  I suspect even some words would only be used in liberal arts/humanities areas since other disciplines are have their own technical lingo.

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1 hour ago, Bikeguy said:

I did the vision test = 83% .  I failed most of the famous celebrities in midst the all the tight optical illusion lines. I genuinely couldn't see the portrait outlines! Some of these tests were basic...if a person had a red-green problem, it wouldn't be fair to them.

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I'm fascinated at how linguists do clever detective work and figure out how languages have evolved and separated.

They say the mother language of most Indo-European languages had two words for fart: one for silent-but-deadly that lasted until Old English called "fist."

So if you ask someone, "Have you been fisting?" you've added another English word to your vocabulary but it's not likely to be in average person's passive vocabulary.

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4 minutes ago, shootingstar said:

Ok, never heard of lemmas!

Me neither. Dictionary entries….who knew? 
“The answer usually starts with a deep sigh, followed by the explanation that the number depends on how a word is defined.

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3 minutes ago, MoseySusan said:

Me neither. We called them phonemes. 

Article gets into quantitative analyses or summaries of. Proof, we're not all fairyairheads.

It's strange to see something that appears organic, like language, but has defined structures. Hence, ways of numerically analyzing it...up to a certain point.

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3 minutes ago, shootingstar said:

Article gets into quantitative analyses or summaries of. Proof, we're not all fairyairheads.

It's strange to see something that appears organic, like language, but has defined structures. Hence, ways of numerically analyzing it...up to a certain point.

Linguists take this seriously. There are implications for power/limits on power related to language. 

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8 minutes ago, MoseySusan said:

Linguists take this seriously. There are implications for power/limits on power related to language. 

Seriously I did wish where I studied, had some courses on linguisitics /sociolinguistics / psycholinguistics. Couldn't have done 100% devoted all time to it since it would have destroyed my Muse/love for literature and expression of human beat. But the evolution of certain languages, acquisition of bilingualism / multilingualism and politics of language, does interest me. Also how language or bilingualism can influence cognitive perception, depending on the language structure or certain words that can't be translated precisely into another language.

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1 minute ago, shootingstar said:

Also how language or bilingualism can influence cognitive perception, depending on the language structure or certain words that can't be translated precisely into another language.

This! I learned much about perception while teaching  students whose primary language is other than English. 

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23 hours ago, Road Runner said:

On a game show I saw this morning, they said a study of some sort had reported that the average American has a vocabulary of 50,000 words.  :o

 

Seems about right.

 

FWIW, Wo2 uses them all, every day, when she's talking to me.

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9 minutes ago, Prophet Zacharia said:

I’m not sure the creation of neologisms is something to brag about.

Why not? As times change language must also change. It’s how we express knowing and worldview. My favorite Wittgenstein quote: The limits of my language means the limits of my world. 

2021 saw the addition of vaccine passport  to the dictionary. This term is a window into our reality, and I’m glad someone used it, others gave it meaning and import, and the dictionary added it to the record. If someone comes across it and looks it up, the meaning and origin are accessible. 
 

 

 

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Just now, Razors Edge said:

How is that not the same as "kitchen window" or "rear tire"?  Those don't warrant inclusion in a dictionary. :dontknow:

Specialized usage, I’d warrant. 
When kitchen window becomes as specialized as kitchen sink, which is located in the online Merriam-Websters Dictionary, you’ll see it there. 

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So, @Razors Edge, we can totally push the phrase kitchen window for the dictionary in 2022. 
What specifically would it mean? 
I’m thinking a practical outlook on a situation, the opposite of the phrase rose-colored glasses. 
What do you think? Should I start using it in the NYT comments sections? Make it part of the daily chatter here in the Cafe? 
 

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3 minutes ago, Prophet Zacharia said:

Gisele had numerous practical uses for Tom’s new luxury yacht as she kitchen windowed the new boat, docked in their backyard. 

And with that sentence, you have become the first use of this phrase. 

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1 minute ago, Square Wheels said:

Just over eleventen hundred

19474195-078f028e9bb9f43bb1e1d9b2203a376

Alright, Shakespeare…we are on a mission to get the phrase kitchen window, meaning a practical view, into the dictionary for 2022. So, start using it in your meetings and emails at work. We’re going for 29382. 

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