Friday, August 19, 2016

How many words do you know?

This is a toughie and has long been considered impossible to estimate.

But, now, in a paper in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium used social media among other things to estimate that the average 20-year-old native speaker knows 42,00 dictionary words.

They devised a test that went viral on Dutch TV and 300,000 people took it.

Then they did the same for English and Spanish.

The English test has been taken by a million people to date.

They made up their own list of words--and saw how many people recognized them. The test shows each word and asks if it's a word or not.

As we get older, according to data also collected, we learn a new word every two days. (Not sure I do...)

They are also researching 200,000 people who speak English as a second language. This could have implications for teaching languages.

They are also expanding the English list to 75,000 words.

I don't usually bring politics into this blog, but I was joking the other day that Trump had to repeat so much because he didn't know very many words.

I wonder if  his invention, "bigly," was on the list of non-words.

In all honesty I don't think toughie is a word, either (see above). I probably make up a new word every two days, not learn one.

No comments: