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How many words do you need to learn?

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
64 messages over 8 pages: 13 4 5 6 7 8 Next >>
pentatonic
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 Message 9 of 64
10 April 2005 at 12:05am | IP Logged 
Francois, there is excellent information in this thread. Your frequency chart and Ardaschir's bullseye chart need to find their way permanently onto your site.
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evan
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 Message 10 of 64
10 April 2005 at 1:19pm | IP Logged 
While you may be able to get by understanding 2000 words it is important to remember that each of those 2000 words can have many definitions depending upon how they are used. This is especially true for simple words such as "dar" or "sacar" in spanish.

It is certainly possible to "know" every word in a sentence and still not understand its meaning. Just because you recognize the word and you know some of its primary dictionary definitions does not mean you will always be able to understand the sentence due to the numbers of expressions and phrases in each language.

Often words that are used less frequently have more precise meanings.

Not sure if this adds anything to the discussion, but I think its helpful to keep in mind that one word does not equal one meaning.
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Raistlin Majere
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 Message 11 of 64
11 May 2005 at 8:41am | IP Logged 
administrator wrote:

the    75 most common words make up 40% of occurences
the   200 most common words make up 50% of occurences
the   524 most common words make up 60% of occurences
the 1257 most common words make up 70% of occurences
the 2925 most common words make up 80% of occurences
the 7444 most common words make up 90% of occurences
the 13374 most common words make up 95% of occurences
the 25508 most common words make up 99% of occurences

!


But, when saying 75 most common words make up 40% of occurences, I imagine these 75 most common words are conjunctions, prepositions, adverbs and other such invariable words, insufficient to form even the simplest sentence.

I think the question is not how many words does a language really use in normal speech, but the number of nouns, verbs and adjectives (that is, variable words), which carry most of the meaning of the sentence.
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administrator
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 Message 12 of 64
11 May 2005 at 10:06am | IP Logged 
Raistlin, yes the very most common words are not nouns nor adjectives. If you want to compile a statistic of the most common words by word type I am of course interested. I think this statistic exists for English.

Edited by administrator on 11 May 2005 at 10:07am

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Raistlin Majere
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 Message 13 of 64
11 May 2005 at 10:20am | IP Logged 
I've found this list of the 250 most common words in English on this webpage, which I deem to be reliable:

http://esl.about.com/library/vocabulary/bl1000_list1.htm
http://esl.about.com/library/vocabulary/bl1000_list1.htm

(edited because of possible copyright infringement and poor legibility)

Edited by administrator on 11 May 2005 at 10:36am

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Darobat
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 Message 14 of 64
11 May 2005 at 5:17pm | IP Logged 
Wow, I find some of those results suprising. Words like "sentance" and "port" are deffinatly not words I would expect to be some of the most common words in english. I wonder if such a list stands true for other languages. I also wonder if certian words are adjectives or verbs. Is number 170 the noun "land" or the verb "to land"?
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pentatonic
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 Message 15 of 64
11 May 2005 at 7:03pm | IP Logged 
That list is not accurate. There is no way that sea and port are in the top 250 words. They must've scanned a very narrow sample.
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Seth
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 Message 16 of 64
11 May 2005 at 7:27pm | IP Logged 
Yeah, or maybe they used "Moby Dick" as their reference. ha


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