Thursday, November 26, 2009

How much words someone needs no know?

"Native speakers' vocabularies vary widely within a language, and are especially dependent on the level of the speaker's education. A 1995 study estimated the vocabulary size of college-educated speakers at about 17,000 word families, and that of first-year college students (high-school educated) at about 12,000."

Source: wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocabulary

"満年齢で6歳になる子どもの場合、理解語彙の総量は、およそ5000~6000語ほど。13歳では3万語前後。20歳ではおよそ4万5000~50000語ほどという調査結果が出ている"

Source: Japanese wikipedia http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%AA%9E%E5%BD%99

My translation:
"When completing  6 years of age, children have a vocabulary size of around 5.000 to 6.000 words. At 13 years old it is 30.000+. At 20 years old, it is around 45.000 to 50.000 words, according to the result of the research."

I'd say these numbers are pretty consistent with what I read before.
For some reason, Japanese vocabulary is larger than English's. Maybe because it is easier to learn new words in Japanese, after you know the language well enough?

4 comments:

sendaiben said...

One comment: you are comparing word families (buy, bought, buyer, etc. is one word family) to words. The two numbers might not be as different as they first appear.

Emilio Wuerges said...

The Japanese study also counts word families. It is just not clear in my excerpt.

But I agree with you. I think the sum of the total amount of "knowledge" to speak each language "should" be around the same, after all, children start to speak at the same age, read at the same age, etc.

Emilio Wuerges said...

Ah, what I wanned to say is that each word Family in English might be bigger, and words can carry more meanings. In Japanese each word seems to have a more specific meaning and the word families are smaller.

But that's what I think, I've not read it in a scientific journal.

Keith said...

There are more words to learn in Japanese because Japanese uses words that mean the same thing but come from different sources. There are Japanese words, Chinese words, and English word sources. I think 使う and 使用 would each be counted instead of being one family. One word comes from Japanese and the other from Chinese. For most every word borrowed from English, there is already another word in Japanese that is still being used frequently.