New, better(?) vocabulary test

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Fraggle Rocker, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I have to admit, my score would be much much lower if I had not spent six months swotting for TOEFL at some point.
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  3. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    A vocabulary of Standard words much over 30,000 isn't of great use.
    While it's handy to know the word "Tenebrous" just in case someone else uses it, you could rarely use it unless you were being deliberately tenebrous.
    No-one would know what the hell you were talking about.
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  5. Gustav Banned Banned

    the higher scores posted here..
    would those extensive vocabs be evident in one's posts?
    these forums do afford the opportunity for utility since we talk about everything imaginable

    for instance...arfa
    he has the highest score
    yet the dialogue is.......commonplace at best

    then take quad
    a high score actually supported by his rhetoric

    someone validate please
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  7. Gustav Banned Banned


    "(Don't check boxes for words you know you've seen before, but whose meaning you aren't exactly sure of.)"

    you violate the spirit of the test
  8. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    I'll only say that I've always managed to do rather embarassingly well in vocabulary and reading tests, since I was about 6 or 7.

    But I'm just talking it up here, you realise.

    And I went back and unchecked a few words from the last column, because I wasn't really sure what they meant. But my score with only about 4 or 5 words left checked in the last column was still 39,000. What gives?

    I thought the test was too easy, btw.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  9. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Absent some data on the variance of the test's vocabulary estimate, there is little scientific basis to claim that differences on the order of 1% should be considered as statistically significant. Heck, for all we know, differences on the order of 50% may not be statistically significant here...
  10. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Some people are very good at using words, it's not just a matter of knowing them. Arfa is probably right that the test may not be very accurate at the top end.

    Despite being a self administered test, it is better than multiple choice. If I'd had choices, I would probably have got most of the ones I missed.

    I would say that Fraggle is the most fluent wordsmith on here.
    He never seems to need to change what he writes.
    I am forever finding missing commas and mistakes in my posts, and I have to go back and change them.
  11. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    I thought the test as an indicator of linguistic ability went something like:

    Those who can't use all the words on the first page in a sentence that reflects the meaning of each word I would say are significantly challenged. If you can't use all the words in the first column of page 2, you're somewhat challenged, and so on up to not being able to use any words in the last column being not challenged much at all.

    My guess is I would probably have scored more than 38,000 if I'd left all of the last column unchecked. I expect Winston Churchill would have managed most of the last page, so maybe he'd have scored 40,000 or so.
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Our fail-lists are almost identical. As a former future scientist with a semiprofessional interest in biology (you've got to be at least an amateur biologist to breed parrots successfully), I happen to know "estivation," from the Latin word for "summer," on the same model as "hibernation," from the Latin word for "winter": sleeping through the summer. But I'm sure there are one or two on the second page that I missed and you got.
    Sam speaks to this further down in the thread. English is one of India's official languages. Every Indian who is reasonably well-educated speaks it as sort of a "first-and-a-half" language. They learn it in school (starting in first grade?), and that's young enough to be completely assimilated. Every region in India has its own language, few of which are even remotely intercomprehensible, so when they meet they speak English. My understanding is that even though most of them are also reasonably fluent in Hindi (which is also taught in the schools) they don't like to speak it because it is the regional language of the New Delhi area. Those people already have enough advantages from living in the economic sphere of the government offices, without also making their language a standard.
    It might show up over here. I think half of our population is addicted to Valium.

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    It has a 36-hour half life, so if you take 10mg every day, after a week you've got 30mg in your blood at all times. That may explain a lot about Americans' serene indifference to politics and current events.
    I would probably put the limit at about the same point. Nonetheless, people with large vocabularies tend to associate with a community of people with similar vocabularies, have jobs in which those words are useful, and choose reading material in which they appear. My wife and I have similar vocabularies--in fact hers is probably bigger since she has an M.A. in English and has read books whose first chapter gave me a headache. She and I can talk about things that transcend the banter in the lunchroom. I can read scholarly articles without running to so often that it's hard to read more than one per day, and this is probably why, at an age when my brain is supposed to start deteriorating, I know more than I did when I was younger.
    I didn't check those boxes. Sorry if I gave the impression that I did.
    We all take into account (or should!) the fact that the majority of our members are teenagers. No matter how bright they are their vocabularies are still accumulating. On the science boards I feel free to use esoteric words, but elsewhere I often put the definition in parentheses next to it. After all, we're here to teach.
    I write for a living so I have to be.
    I do the same thing. I proofread everything before I hit the "Submit Reply" button. And then I go back and read it again, because it always looks different in the display font. Next time you see one of my posts check underneath, and you'll probably see "Edited by Fraggle" with a time stamp a few minutes after the original posting.

    I do this for your benefit, of course. We all have limited time and wading through typographical errors slows down our reading. Better one person spend a couple of minutes fixing an error than make twenty people lose fifteen seconds that they could devote to reading somebody else's post. But I also do it for my own benefit. I have to do this on the documents I submit at the office, so it's important to make it a habit and hone my proofreading skills.

    And yeah, there's also the fact that well-written prose commands more respect. If I expect you to accept me as the Linguistics Moderator, I'd better be damn good in my native language!
    It's unreasonable to expect anyone to actually write or utter all of the words in their vocabulary at any time in their life. Your vocabulary includes all the words you understand, not just the ones you personally use. We all read articles from which we learn a lot, but which we'll simply absorb into our store of knowledge without ever discussing with someone else.
    So far we all seem to be in agreement that if we count sing/sang/sung/sings/singing as one word instead of five, Churchill did not have the 100,000 word vocabulary with which he was credited at the end of his life.

    As I noted earlier, that would be a ridiculous way to measure vocabulary in a highly-inflected language like Spanish, in which every verb has not just five forms but thirty or forty. Even a high school student would have a vocabulary of two or three hundred thousand.

    And we won't even get into Latin, where even nouns and adjectives are highly inflected!
  13. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    A. I do not see anything to distinguish choice of test words in this from others
    B. 35,200
    C. On the page where the score is given it says derivations are not included
    D. 1.5 to 2 times mine

    I still believe this and many other tests wildly overestimate vocabulary size.
    Without going back and looking it up I recall that Shakespeare’s total vocabulary
    was about 27,000-29,000 words including derivations, and there is no way
    in hell my vocabulary is bigger than Shakespeare’s. For that matter I doubt
    Churchill’s was either.
  14. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Well, if Fraggle's info that most users here are teenagers is true, then we might expect an "SAT-prep" effect. I.e., people will have memorized a considerable number of definitions for fancy words (the term "SAT words" is often used for exactly this sort of esoteric vocabulary), but not really internalized them into their actual usage. I suspect that a lot of people's vocabularies actually peak around the end of high school - they memorize a ton of words for college-admissions tests, but never really get into using them outside of standardized tests, and then forget most of them over the subsequent years.
  15. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Not sure exactly what percentage of Indians can speak Hindi, but I do notice a pretty strong geographic effect. I.e., it seems way less common in south Indians - I know dozens of south Indians through school/work/personal life, and only a handful of them know Hindi well enough to speak. Only maybe two of them would count as "fluent." And these are all highly educated people (PhD's from major US research universities, etc.). Every single one of them has been fluent in English, although there's likely some sample bias there in that I met all of them in the USA.
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The last one was overloaded with words about boating and fishing. What the hell is a "dory"? This one was full of words that only the most esoteric scholars would have used in the 1890s, if at all.
    There are so many more words now! Especially after he invented so many new ones.

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    Some authority, perhaps the OED people, announced last year that the English language now has a million words.

    Several things have happened since Shakespeare's day that would affect this.
    • The printing press. Yes I know that it was already invented, but its second-order effects had not yet taken hold. The volume of printed material increased steadily, giving people access to more voices and more sources of vocabulary.
    • It also catalyzed the spread of education for the common people and universal literacy. This increases the number of words a person needs and wants to know.
    • The Enlightenment in the 19th century saw a large increase in scholarship in English-speaking countries (as well as most of Europe). Scholars brought a whole new lexicon of Latin, French and Greek words into English.
    • The ascendence of science and the explosion of technology in the 20th century has brought a huge assortment of new words. Latin, Greek and Latin-Greek hybrids like "television" are coined constantly. So are made-up words like caffeine, rambunctious, uranium, robot, hip-hop and waldo. So are trademarks like aspirin, heroin and thermos, which eventually lose their protection. Then there are the acronyms like radar, laser and Cobol. And all the new words mandated by the speed and capacity of computers, like picosecond and petabyte.
    I'm sure some scholar somewhere is diligently cataloging all of his letters and other writings, all of his newsreels and recorded speeches, now that technology is available to make it easier.
  17. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    Several tests were mentioned in the other thread, and I do not recall
    anything amiss with any of them, including the one you are complaining of:

    And I am going to disagree with you and leave it at that that brig-
    gangway-trawl-dory and any others in any way skew the test results.

    As for 1890s esoteria not a single word I recognize stands out as
    unreasonably dated for a modern reader.

    I believe this test realistically assesses vocabulary size. I encourage you
    and others to cite results obtained from it and no other so as not to convey
    inflated impression of your vocabulary sizes.

    1,000,000 means nothing unless you can provide evidence that people
    such as me and you know something like 20,000 of them.

    Also, I feel sure the vast majority of the newest words, such as
    picosecond and petabyte, are technical terms, not known by anyone
    but specialists.

    If new words based on Greek and Latin enter the language constantly
    and have become generally recognized, then you should be able to
    provide dozens of coinages from just the last 20 years as recognizable
    to most people as “television”. Let’s hear about them please.

    New words might make a difference of 1-2,000 in the vocabularies
    of most people, but they could not account for the more than 10,000
    word advantage that you, me and most others here supposedly enjoy
    over Shakespeare.
  18. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    I seriously doubt vocabulary size peaks at a young age.

    Personally and anecdotally I took some standardized test prep tests
    posted elswhere and my results were pretty darn good, so much so
    that I am confident my vocabluary size is a lot better than when I
    last took the SAT (1966- scored 612V I think)
  19. Gustav Banned Banned



  20. Gustav Banned Banned


    the context....prepping for tests
    the variable.....retention

    thats easy
    southerners speak dravidian languages
    northerners, indo-aryan

    english is the preferred medium of communication btw the groups
    i think
  21. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Churchill's strength was not so much his vocabulary, it was his masterful use of words which will impress people as long as people read history.

    Vocabularies above 30,000.
    A lot of these words are only of use in completing crossword puzzles.
    Anyone with any sense would avoid using a great number of them and use simpler words instead.

    After all, the purpose of language is to communicate, not to impress people with your vocabulary.

    Shakespeare is an unusual case.
    Whenever he couldn't think of an existing word to communicate his intended meaning, he made up a word.
    That shouldn't have worked theoretically.

    Try it yourself.
  22. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Estivation is what desert animals do between rains...


    A waiting, full of frog bones,
    under the surface
    There is life in the stones,
    Hiding from the fist of the sun,
    Far underground,
    Things sleep in the cold dry dark,
    Interred, enwombed,
    Awaiting the return of the water.

    -(c) me, 1995 or so, piss off.
  23. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    I see you are quoting the poem I wrote in 1995.
    I copyrighted it so no-one could steal it.
    That me is me.

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