Friday, December 19, 2008

Just How Wordy Am I?

Steve had a post up today titled I've got over a 7000 word vocabulary and I ain't afraid to use it. I suspect that he's shortchanging himself but searching the internet for what the average English vocabulary should be yields results that are all over the place. It actually seems like something of a contentious subject. I think we can at least say that the average High School Graduate should know better than 10,000 words.

In my search, I ran across a vocabulary test I thought wasn't bad. Basically, you just identify the words you recognize at each level. There are ten different screens you go through, each of which shows 6 levels with 10 words in each. When you get to levels 5 and 6 of each screen, there are some pretty obscure damn words there. The fewest amount of words I knew on a screen was 45/60 and the highest was 53/60.

Two things to note:

1. At first, I couldn't see how to get to the test. Then I was amused to see this line:

If you have a problem to see the following tester, please click this link.
Hey, it's a vocabulary test, not a grammar test.

2. They're not really clear about what qualifies as knowing a word. For my purposes, I decided I knew a word if I could use it in a sentence correctly, whether or not I could give a dictionary definition. Example: One of the words was "occiptal". I knew that I could have a doctor say, "His occipital lobe was badly damaged in the accident" without being an idiot. In spite of that, I still had to look it up to be sure it was the rearmost portion of the brain. Thus, I give myself credit for knowing the word. YMMV.

I'll be interested in hearing how the rest of you guys do. It doesn't take as long as it sounds like it would.

BTW. Snow has turned to sleet and rain here. I shoveled right as it was changing over. Pics will be up later.


Random Michelle K said...

Total score of 507.

Low of 46, high of 55.

Interestingly, the last column--at least some of the words I recognized--tended to be very specific. I recognized medical terms, scientific terms, botany terms, biology terms, and even sewing terms.

Pretty strange, but the grammar and writing were atrocious.

Nathan said...

I neglected to include my total: 504.

neurondoc said...

509--nice concept but probably meaningless. I might have done worse, but there were lots of medical terms.

Random Michelle K said...

That's extremely odd that our scores are close together.

Jim Wright said...

That's extremely odd that our scores are close together.

Well, considering the source... hehehahahaha

I had "maverick" level one, first page. Level 1. I.e. simple. Yeah, that sounds about right. Sorry, that word is forever ruined for me. If I'm reading along in my internal monologue, when I get to "maverick" my internal voice pronounces it in a nasal Minnie-sotan you betcha accent. Fuck.

Also, 'exterminate' I hear in the Dalek's voice. Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate.

Beriberi, I knew it was a deficiency disease - I just couldn't remember which one, I was thinking Vitamin A, but it's actually thiamine. I checked it anyway. thhhhrrrp! (Bill the Cat sound of derision).

My score: 501. Frankly I think the test needs more woodworking and military terms. Also a "select all" button for each column.

Anonymous said...

No higher than 55/60.
Worse was 35/60 (yeesh!)

498 total.

Time to shop for a word-a-day calendar.

Nathan said...

So far, we all seem to be scoring in the 80%-plus range. The only thing they give you for comparison is that that seems to be in the Post-graduate range. It would be nice if it kept track of itself and told you what percentile you scored in.

kimby said...

Total score of 503.
Low of 47, high of 55.

Steve Buchheit said...

I only knew 557 words (54-57 for each section). Levels 1-4 I think there were only one or two in the 4 that I didn't know. 5 and 6 was where I started to drop out. Lots of those things I wouldn't have known except for my job and helping my wife with her PhD. I probably wouldn't use many of them in conversation, but there we a few I had just used in my last story ("fleur-de-ley" stick in my mind because it was one of those things the critique group 50/50'ed on, and I ended up deleting it as being too french cultured where the story has a distinct germanic bent).

Nathan said...

Oooh! Look at Steve's big giant brain.

(fleur-de-lis...just sayin')


Steve Buchheit said...

Yes, that's how they spelled it on the test, but me's fingers no works so good. Hey, I even forgot the "s" on "sticks".

Dan Berlyoung said...

Ok, full disclosure. I'm not a writer, just a web developer/coder, college buddy and reader of Steve's blog.

I got a 438 (somebody's gotta be the bottom of the bell curve) and ranged from 37 to with 47. I guess all those degrees (Assoc., BS and MEd.) helped a little. Interesting note, I tended to do better on the last column than the penultimate (yea, showing off) one.

I wonder what score the general US population gets.

Nathan said...



Full disclosure: I'm sure I just said something but I have no idea what. Sometimes it's more a question of which language you're most fluent in.

Tom said...

My range was 45 - 54. I think the total was 477. Only twice in the 50s.

That seems to be about average for this group, and average in vocabulary is not something I'm used to being! You guys Rawk!

I got scatological, but I didn't see fuckity. What kind of vocabulary test doesn't have fuckity?