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Article Overhaul[edit]

This article was two sentences long. I edited and merged Vocabulary, Vocabulary Size and Focal Vocabulary. Based on the tags of the latter two articles mentioned, the current all-inclusive Vocabulary article needs some work. Encyclopedic tone, logical order and information analysis (references and usefulness) will get this article in shape. Also, can anyone find the average vocabulary size and growth? A graph would be great. Ytiugibma (talk) 03:05, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

Good job. (talk) 19:44, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Ambiguity: Lexicon and Vocabulary[edit]

Merge Lexicon and Vocabulary?[edit]

It is very amusing that this is even being considered, especially in the VOCABULARY article. I imagine opticians are considering the distinction between angle and angel a mistake. Perhaps otologists are making the same mistake with right and write.

  • Vocabulary voh-kab-yuh-ler-ee n. "All the words known and used by a particular person"
  • Lexicon lek-si-kon n. "All the words of a particular language or subject"

Let's leave things as they are, huh? Ytiugibma (talk) 03:06, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

Justification for merging vocabulary and lexicon articles[edit]

First of all, please note that I'm not saying that I disagree with the proposal to merge lexicon and vocabulary articles, but I was wondering if someone might comment on the reasons for that suggestion. I'm currently editing a linguistics document and actually came here because I was hoping to find some direction to help answer the question of whether the terms vocabulary and lexicon are interchangeable (and it seems that I'm not the only one who is interested in that question). They might well be, but was wondering if someone could address both the merits of combining them and of keeping them separate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:54, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

See below. Lundse (talk) 15:28, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

It seems barmy to me (and ironic) to merge the terms. Lexicon is also a game, plus it has connotations of being a book or a physical manifestation, whereas a vocabulary in the most common usage sense is almost certainly a theoretical body of words existing in people's minds. DavidFarmbrough (talk) 12:27, 26 October 2008 (UTC)


  • Oppose They are not interchangable terms - lexicon is the words in the language (or the book detailing this), vocabulary are the words a specific person has in that language. There is plenty of things to expand this article with - I came here looking for details on "active vocabulary" and what it's counterpart(s?) are called; this information would not fit under the "lexicon" heading. Lundse (talk) 15:28, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose For the reason that is stated above. I came look for details or even estimates on the sizes of what I would call "working vocabulary" for various languages. That is, for general conversation how many words / word families are need in English, Spanish, Korean, etc?

JimCubb (talk) 15:52, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

  • Oppose : Don't do it!! The lexicon article is terrible, but killing it off won't help anything. Besides, they're different things. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:58, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Ideas for expansion[edit]

ideas for expansion: size of average person's vocab: differnet stages of childhood & adult (not sure myself of the stats) -- Tarquin 23:16 Mar 3, 2003 (UTC)

This is an encyclopedic article and should not be moved to wiktionary. Rob Price 02:16, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

Realistic account of a person's vocabulary[edit]

I don't know what BE university is, but I'd be amazed if an average vocabulary was 50K words, especially if you don't count inflections. Can anyone find more accurate numbers? Agentsoo 15:15, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

A vocabulary of 20K word families for a college student seems to be a more realistic estimate.

The below is cut-and-paste from an article by Paul Nation, a recognized expert on vocabulary. See

How many words do native speakers know?

For over 100 years there have been published reports of systematic attempts to measure the vocabulary size of native speakers of English. There have been various motivations for such studies but behind most of them lies the idea that vocabulary size is a reflection of how educated, intelligent, or well read a person is. A large vocabulary size is seen as being something valuable. Unfortunately the measurement of vocabulary size has been bedeviled by serious methodological problems largely centring around the questions of "What should be counted as a word?", "How can we draw a sample of words from a dictionary to make a vocabulary test?", and "How do we test to see if a word is known or not?". Failure to deal adequately with these questions has resulted in several studies of vocabulary size which give very misleading results. For a discussion of these issues see Nation (1993a), Lorge and Chall (1963), and Thorndike (1924).

Teachers of English as a second language may be interested in measures of native speakers' vocabulary size because these can provide some indication of the size of the learning task facing second language learners, particularly those who need to study and work alongside native speakers in English medium schools and universities or workplaces.

At present the best conservative rule of thumb that we have is that up to a vocabulary size of around 20,000 word families, we should expect that native speakers will add roughly 1000 word families a year to their vocabulary size. That means that a five year old beginning school will have a vocabulary of around 4000 to 5000 word families. A university graduate will have a vocabulary of around 20,000 word families (Goulden, Nation and Read, 1990). These figures are very rough and there is likely to be very large variation between individuals. These figures exclude proper names, compound words, abbreviations, and foreign words. A word family is taken to include a base word, its inflected forms, and a small number of reasonably regular derived forms (Bauer and Nation, 1993). Some researchers suggest vocabulary sizes larger than these (see Nagy, this volume), but in the well conducted studies (for example, D'Anna, Zechmeister nad Hall, 1991) the differences are mainly the result of differences in what items are included in the count and how a word family is defined.

A small study of the vocabulary growth of non-native speakers in an English medium primary school (Jamieson, 1976) suggests that in such a situation non-native speakers' vocabulary grows at the same rate as native speakers' but that the initial gap that existed between them is not closed. For adult learners of English as a foreign language, the gap between their vocabulary size and that of native speakers is usually very large, with many adult foreign learners of English having a vocabulary size of much less than 5000 word families in spite of having studied English for several years. Large numbers of second language learners do achieve vocabulary sizes that are like those of educated native speakers, but they are not the norm.

This is a joke... a five-year-old knowing 5,000 "word families?" Learning another 1,000 each year? That's nearly three new words a day ("word families" no less).. you've got to be kidding me. I doubt the average person learns more than a hundred new words a year, on average, if even close to that. Dan 18:11, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually I think I have heard a similar number, though I don't remember the source. Also, as a footnote, learning a "word family" wouldn't necessary have to be more difficult than learning a new word; if you know "cat" and "dog" form plural with -s, it wouldn't be too difficult to conclude that "puma" also likely would have a regular plural with a s, or if you know verbs "jump" and "run" forms a regular 2nd person present tense with -s, you could also figure out that the word "meet" likely would follow the same scheme. If the words follow regular schemes, it isn't harder to learn variant forms. 惑乱 分からん 17:08, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Steven Pinker, in The Language Instinct (New York: Harper Collins, 1994, page 271) states that children are capable of learning a new word every two hours. The numbers here are not out of the ballpark.
Yes but ... to me the linear scale definitely is out of the ballpark :) There's no way that the rate of word-learning I am doing at 2 is equivalent to the rate of word-learning I am doing in university. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was an order of magnitude greater for the 2 year old. That's not to say that the two year old is more capable; just that vocabulary is way down low on the list by the time you are in university. — robbiemuffin page talk 14:51, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
There is so much important information missing in this article, basic information that must be included. I will do some research but much more help is needed. Davido321 11:38, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

When I was trying to get into the first grade at less than 6, I was told I couldn't do that unless I knew 50 words. And my mother argued with the school about that.WFPM (talk) 19:16, 26 April 2010 (UTC) Now I read Isaac Asimov, who says that the voluminous vocabulary of the English language is what makes it so good at explaining concepts and ideas.WFPM (talk) 19:20, 26 April 2010 (UTC) In Lucretius' "On the nature of things" he apoligizes for the inability of Latin to permit his adequate explanation of the phenomena of nature.WFPM (talk) 19:26, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

About some studies[edit]

I heard there was some studies that made a correlation between the vocabulary of a person and succes in life. Of course I read that from and I don't know if any of this is true . I'd like someone to investigate this to point out the studies that show this to see if it is founded or not. Z E U S 22:11, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Online utility[edit]

Someone have deleted Vocabulary builder from external links. Don't you find that online utility useful for readers of this article? -- 10:47, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Whether a web site is "useful" is not a relevant criterion—Wikipedia is not a web directory. An external link must contain information about the topic that extends what is in the article. —johndburger 12:04, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

active/passive vocabulary internal links[edit]

The links for active vocabulary and passive vocabulary lead to pages that redirect to here. I am removing them for now. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:50, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Motor imaging[edit]

An anonymous editor added a huge amount of material on "motor imaging". This may deserve to be in Wikipedia in its own article, but does not deserve to be 3/4 of an article on Vocabulary. —johndburger 12:00, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

(Wikimedia syntax error removed) ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 13:43, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
What the heck is that?  :) Well, so at this time the entire section on vocabulary "acquisition" is gone. Do we need it? If so go and readd it. In the mean time I have removed the section header since the section was literally empty. — robbiemuffin page talk 15:49, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
That was a one edit editor (User:Binta12) getting into some cut-n-paste trouble on his/her computer. johndburger didn't dump that syntax error here. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 13:43, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

to the Wookie[edit]

Please stop with replacing all word that begin "vocab-" with "wocab-". It's funny though :) I was laughing mid way through once I realized there was more than one. — robbiemuffin page talk 22:51, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

What is a "word family"?[edit]

Couldn't find it in my dictionary. Do we mean lexemes? ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 09:31, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

you probably won't find it in a general dictionary, but you'll find it in the fields of linguistics, psychology,education, etc. Generally it refers to a base word, its derivations (lemma), most common affixes, and transparent compounds. The definition varies by language, as isolating languages (e.g. Thai, Vietnamese) don't really have a concept of word family in the sense that synthetic languages (Sanskrit, Latin) would. Myqlarson (talk) 13:21, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

the whole thing[edit]

list of the words —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:48, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Types of Vocabulary?[edit]

The section has two (print) citations but seems to be based on too much simplification/assumption to be worthwhile. Specifically, the statement that reading vocabulary includes all other types of vocabulary assumes a degree of literacy (which would depend on whether the language is phonetically written) implicitly and without basis. To take an extreme example, consider that an entirely illiterate person has a reading vocabulary of zero, but can have a listening and speaking vocabulary in the thousands; so it is nonsense to say reading vocabulary "is the largest type of vocabulary simply because it includes the other three." Yothgoboufnir (talk) 21:21, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I agree. I'll work on that soon. The relative sizes depend on a few factors, literacy status being one of them. Even among literate adults, the relative status of literacy within their larger social community might play a role as well [ Myqlarson (talk) 23:23, 24 April 2011 (UTC) ]

Learning Vocabulary[edit]

There are some sections dealing with effective ways of learning vocabulary. Browsing the history, there are also many links which have come and gone to sites which claim to improve the efficiency of vocabulary acquisition. While I'm not really in favour of the links, I do think that an article devoted to the relative merits of the various methods of vocabulary acquisition would be a worthwhile separate article. Perhaps we could even start with a simple chart listing the basic study techniques, their advantages/disadvantages, and studies which have investigated them? Some for consideration:

  • keyword method
  • flashcards (including various recall schedules)
  • morphological analysis
  • cognates
  • etc

Any thoughts? [ Myqlarson (talk) 23:23, 24 April 2011 (UTC) ]

Cannot be true[edit]

The article boldly claims:

A person's reading vocabulary is all the words he or she can recognize when reading. This is the largest type of vocabulary simply because it includes the other three. (Referring to Listening, Writing and Speaking vocabulary)

I won't bother adding a request for citations, since it cannot be true, considering analfabetism, dyslexia, simple don't-know-how-to-spell and such. If those phrases "X:ing vocabularies" are real academic terms, then their sections should be reviewed and expanded. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 12:51, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Good point. It's only true in the case of literate adults who grow up in cultures which place a high value on literacy. Those people are probably a minority in the world, but tend to comprise the majority o language researchers, which explains this common assertion. Myqlarson (talk) 13:14, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Bad Footnote Link[edit]

Regarding footnote Number 7
I don't know how to fix a footnote that links to an exterior page that was either a mistake to begin with or no longer exists.
It's a shame, too, because I really wanted to take a closer look at this study.
It reads:
^ "What does txting do 2 language: The influences of exposure to messaging and print media on acceptability constraints". Retrieved 2012-03-09.
Here's the the link's URL which gives an error message saying the document cannot be located:>

Anyone know what to do here?
Mykstor (talk) 02:11, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Google! What does txting do 2 language
And, I fixed the ref. :) -- Quiddity (talk) 22:57, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

Chinese/Japanese Mistranslation[edit]

In the "Types of Vocabulary" section, Reading vocabulary subsection, This article states "For example, a Chinese speaker may not recognize that 麒麟 (giraffe) is pronounced qi lin, a Japanese speaker may not recognize that 麒麟 (giraffe) is pronounced kirin."

The two characters in question 麒麟 (qilin) in fact refer to a mythical Chinese unicorn, and do not mean giraffe in any way. The author of this section does not quote any sources, and You can see from multiple Chinese Dictionaries: and that these characters refer to a mythical creature and not a giraffe.

I think that this entire example provides little value to the reader and should be removed completely. However if it is to be kept, please make the adjustment as noted above. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Karatkdj9 (talkcontribs) 17:10, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

Possibly, the one who wrote that was mainly familiar with Japanese. According to WWWJDIC, while 麒麟 can mean the Chinese mythical creature, it may also mean ‘giraffe’ in Japanese. For Chinese, the translation ‘giraffe’ might be wrong nonetheless. -- (talk) 09:30, 3 July 2017 (UTC)

Amount of vocabulary possible to add per day?[edit]

While I won't dare to ask that to be included in the article (even though I think it is a good idea), could someone point me to research and studies, which examine the question, how much is the optimal and maximal new vocabulary a second-/foreign-language learner can obtain and later retain (if properly repeated) per day or week? While in the beginning 20 words might look manageable, I doubt any one individual could keep up this level of vocabulary acquisition over time. But on the other hand, if one would commit to studying vocabulary several hours per day (basically full-time), the situation might look different. All these things (e.g. averaged long-time performance, i.e. actual retention) are sure researched already, I just don't know about it. Thanks in advance. --Philipp Grunwald (talk) 12:41, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Suspect deep inaccuracies in average vocabulary citations[edit]

I am a person of gifted level IQ who endeavors to learn new somewhat rare words for personal study. Learning rare words used in classical literature such as adjuration, importunate, evanesce, etc., really only adds perhaps 500 to 1000 words to the vocabulary of the truly gifted in a lifetime. At the utmost there may be perhaps 3500 of these "50 cent" words entirely which are used in classical literature, which only a literary genius would know. I have added 150 of these words to my vocabulary in 6 months by constant study recently, which few people, even those who read, ever do, and I now have a pretty gifted level vocabulary. Your article suggests that from 1st to 7th grade, a person adds about 8500 words to their vocabulary (from 1500 to 10000 you say) and then another 2,000 to 7,000 in college, (to 12,000 or 17,000 total you say) Heavens! Where are all of these extra words coming from, if only perhaps 3500 gifted words exist beyond a normal vocabulary? I just know that your estimates on words added after 1rst grade cannot be accurate at all. Most people learn the basics of the English language from age 2 to age 8 or so. After that, it takes constant application and a highly literary nature to learn even a few hundred more words in a lifetime. I just know that learning 2,000 to 7,000 words in college is not correct. Not even close. A person studying the dictionary with constant application might be able to add 100 words with some trouble in 6 months, as I did. Few people even in college really take the time to learn such words however. In all of my reading and learning new words from 4th grade to present at age 42, I believe I've only added perhaps a few hundred uncommon or gifted words to my vocabulary beyond the words that any average person would use. To speak of adding 8,000 to 15,000 words to one's vocabulary does not seem realistic to me as someone who studies rare words. Adding a hundred is a superhuman feat. I'm only including common nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, articles, etc., and not proper names or geographical places in my definition of the average literary vocabulary for this post. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:32, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

i got selected for job — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:59, 23 February 2015 (UTC)