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Online vocabulary size estimators

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Liface
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 Message 1 of 13
01 October 2010 at 5:49am | IP Logged 
As I was making dinner last night, I was thinking of a way to test one's active or passive vocabulary in languages. I was going to post my idea here for a website that would do it, but as I went to search for something like it, it appears one has already been made (for English, anyway):
http://www.plenilune.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/vocabulary.asp

Does anyone know of any calculators like this for other languages? I found one for French here:
http://www.abyssum.com/Mesmots/

And for fun, post your score on the English test, and post whether you're a native speaker or not. I'm a native English speaker, and I got 64782 words understood, with a further 9255 inferred and 9255 familiar.

Edited by Liface on 01 October 2010 at 6:06am

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Doitsujin
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 Message 2 of 13
01 October 2010 at 9:55am | IP Logged 
It looks like these test were developed by statisticians, not linguists and I somewhat doubt their accuracy because they extrapolate the active vocabulary based on a very small sample. For example, my French test estimated an active vocabulary of 18K words and I'm pretty sure that I know only a fraction of that.
IMHO, the only way to find out your real active vocabulary would be to get queried on each word in the word lists. However, this would be not only very time consuming but also very boring.
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Sprachprofi
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 Message 3 of 13
01 October 2010 at 10:36am | IP Logged 
English:
78246 known
8094 inferred
7195 familiar

French:
23318 known
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Iversen
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 Message 4 of 13
01 October 2010 at 10:39am | IP Logged 
I got estimates of 77717 known, 16973 inferred and 8933 familiar words (but I don't acknowledge words whose meaning I have forgotten, so those 8933 socalled familiar words are irrelevant).

My own estimates - based on counting known headwords on sample pages in dictionaries af different sizes - would suggest a much lower number. In Webster's Unabridged Monster Dictionary I got 51.000 known words (around a third of the more than 160.000 headwords in that sublime creation of unfathomable industriousness), while I hovered slightly above 90% of the words in smaller dictionaries. I have written the actual numbers in this post in my log. But from those numbers you should subtract more or less automatic derivations because you get those for free, not by laboriously learning them.

I don't know why the numbers are higher in this electronical test.

EDIT: And an estimate of 35867 French words (out of 43.000). My one and only dictionary count gave 23.100 in a dictionary of the same size, but this time I think that the 'truth' is somewhere in the middle, maybe around 30.000 words.


Edited by Iversen on 05 October 2010 at 10:31am

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Liface
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 Message 5 of 13
01 October 2010 at 5:21pm | IP Logged 
Doitsujin wrote:
It looks like these test were developed by statisticians, not linguists and I somewhat doubt their accuracy because they extrapolate the active vocabulary based on a very small sample. For example, my French test estimated an active vocabulary of 18K words and I'm pretty sure that I know only a fraction of that.
IMHO, the only way to find out your real active vocabulary would be to get queried on each word in the word lists. However, this would be not only very time consuming but also very boring.


Isn't 100 a big enough sample out of 132208 total entries, though? 96 words would give you a +/- of 10 over that many entries. That's not bad at all. As long as it's random, you don't need a large sample to give an accurate result. That's why polling companies only poll 1000 or 2000 people and can accurately extrapolate that value over the population of the United States, for instance.

The English one has an explanation of how it works here:
http://www.plenilune.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/meta-calculator.as p

Edited by Liface on 01 October 2010 at 5:26pm

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Fasulye
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 Message 6 of 13
02 October 2010 at 10:09am | IP Logged 
VOCABULARY SIZE ESTIMATOR FRENCH

I couldn't click on the English version, so I did the French test. There were 100 words presented randomly out of 43,000 words. I scored 29 %, which is equivalent to an estimated vocabulary of 12,553 words.

Fasulye
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liddytime
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 Message 7 of 13
02 October 2010 at 1:43pm | IP Logged 
VOCABULARY SIZE ESTIMATOR FRENCH

I don't speak French, but I do speak several other Romance languages.

I tried the French test and scored 17,846 words.

I imagine I was able to figure these out through cognates alone.

How does this affect the validity of the test?

I'm fairly certain I can't understand 17,846 words in French! :-) ( although it would be nice if I could!!)
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luhmann
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 Message 8 of 13
02 October 2010 at 4:44pm | IP Logged 
English: understood: 73967; inferred.: 12813; familiar: 0
Many of the words I actually knew from other languages, though.

French: 28997




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