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How many words do you need to learn?

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Captain Haddock
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 Message 33 of 64
14 December 2006 at 9:01pm | IP Logged 
Whether you need to know more nouns depends a bit on the language. Indo-European languages tend to be noun-oriented, but others might not be. For Japanese, for example, you need to know as many verbs as nouns, and you also need a large number of onomatopoeic adverbs, a class that doesn't even exist in European languages.
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Kitty
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 Message 34 of 64
14 December 2006 at 9:07pm | IP Logged 
well, does the number of words you "need" not also depend on the milieu you want to fit in?
I guess someone who want to study French to work for a french-literature magazine will need much more words then someone learning french to become a frenchteacher for primary kids in Finnland.

But that's just an idea
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Keith
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 Message 35 of 64
14 December 2006 at 9:48pm | IP Logged 
Captain Haddock wrote:
For Japanese, for example, you need to know as many verbs as nouns, and you also need a large number of onomatopoeic adverbs, a class that doesn't even exist in European languages.


You must be counting suru verbs. Those are just nouns which add suru to create a verb. There sure aren't as many verbs as there are nouns. Check out Charles Kelly's lists. The nouns out number the verbs.
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Captain Haddock
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 Message 36 of 64
15 December 2006 at 3:06am | IP Logged 
I would count the suru verbs that are predominantly used as verbs. It's just my impression from doing quite a lot of reading, but Japanese is heavily verb-oriented, and the proportion of nouns and verbs used in a normal conversation or piece of prose has got to be more verb-heavy than that of an IE language.

Charles Kelly's lists are taken from newspapers, a special medium that is heavily topic-oriented and avoids certain sentence structures, so it's not quite typical of the language (though it is still useful). Maybe I should make my own list. :)

Japanese gives us half-a-dozen verbs for wearing clothes, 10 for cooking things, 15 for breaking things, and even uses a class of verbs to do what adjectives do in other languages. :) Where English uses pronouns to show if a verb is transitive, Japanese will have two (or even three) separate verbs.

Edited by Captain Haddock on 25 January 2007 at 3:21am

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luke
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 Message 37 of 64
24 January 2007 at 5:54pm | IP Logged 
When do you start running out of words to learn? By that I mean when can you enjoy books, newspapers, tv shows, movies, etc for hours on end and only run into a word now and then that you are unsure of?
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tujiko
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 Message 38 of 64
24 January 2007 at 8:41pm | IP Logged 
I'm not sure how many words one needs to learn, but I am sure words are best learned in context (in speech, in text), and not memorized in isolation (flashcards, lists).
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luke
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 Message 39 of 64
24 January 2007 at 9:06pm | IP Logged 
tujiko wrote:
I am sure words are best learned in context.

That's what I was thinking tonight too. I'm also thinking about experimenting with the "crazy picture" method for tricky words. For instance, I've looked at "entresacar" dozens of times but haven't consistently remembered "aclarar, elegir". Now I'm thinking of a mneumonic aid such as: a big giant entered the forest with a sack to clear the trees. That's got to make it stick! I should have tried this technique earlier.

Rereading this thread, it sounds like a vocabulary of 10,000 words active 20,000 passive is in the ballpark where you have a good handle on almost anything that comes your way.
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Andy E
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 Message 40 of 64
25 January 2007 at 2:44am | IP Logged 
tujiko wrote:
I'm not sure how many words one needs to learn, but I am sure words are best learned in context (in speech, in text), and not memorized in isolation (flashcards, lists).


Yes, agreed but you can create your lists/flashcards so that you learn the context not the isolated word - something that I have been doing (very belatedly and much to my annoyance**) for the past couple of weeks.

Andy.

**The annoyance being that I didn't start doing this much earlier.


Edited by Andy E on 25 January 2007 at 2:47am



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