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Polyglot Conference Video on PolyNots

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With regard to doing research on LingQ, I will be attending the multilingualism conference in Montréal in October. See you the URL below. I will hope to interest some academics and doing research on LingQ.


would you mind to elaborate a bit more on the methods to measure vocabulary size you were referring to in your presentation? Why is it such a complicated quantity to measure?


Here we go again,replying to your specific points.

1. I don't remember the numbers that Anthony gave in his presentation. However, searching on the Internet shows levels of between 10 and 60,000 words (Pinker) as the average English person's passive vocabulary. Anthony did say that we increase our vocabulary by 1000 words a year. If this were true, I would have 67,000 words in English. Of course this assumes we are talking about passive vocabulary. It also sidesteps the issue of whether we are referring to word families or each individual form of words.

In any case, the important point is that learning words in a second or foreign language is not the same as adding words in your native language, for the reasons I already provided. If you disagree with this concept please say so. Don't just ignore it.

2. I don't really care about the accuracy of my word count in LingQ. It is a measure of the increasing size of my vocabulary, which enables me to read more and more difficult texts. If you believe that I am not telling the truth about the range of my increasing reading ability, please say so.

3. I don't know why you would make assumptions about my Chinese word count. I don't know how you count words in Chinese and how that relates to English or Russian word count. Do you?

4. Why would you assume that my active vocabulary in Chinese, a language I have used little over the last 40 years, should be particularly rich? Why is my active vocabulary in Chinese relevant to the acquisition of passive vocabulary in other languages as reported on LingQ?

5. What do you mean by true word count?

Anthony, I am intrigued. What are some of the features and functions that you would like to create for LingQ to make it a more sophisticated tool. We have lots of ideas and limited resources. From our experience, everything takes much longer than we expect.

If you can help us improve LingQ, we are very interested in listening.


No, it wasn't really a hatchet job, but you did say to Steve: " do not strike me as someone with a very rich vocabulary. For instance you must have used 经验 some ten times in your video to mean "having experienced something". First of all 经验 is not often used as a verb but rather as a noun, secondly someone with a rich active vocabulary would use words like 经历,体会,体验,to provide some variation and to employ the subtle differences in meaning of these verbs..."

(I guess I'm just saying this seems a little über-critical, considering that Steve hasn't actually lived in China...)

@AnthonyLauder - We are working on updating the API to include more functions. Send one of us an email with some of the things you had in mind and we'll see what we can do for you here.

Thanks for posting the video, Anthony - I'll watch it later tonight!

As for word count, size of vocabulary, passive vs. active vocabulary etc., HTLAL member Iversen found out that he didn't use that large a portion of his passive vocabulary. (~10%, maybe 2500-3000 words)

No, I wouldn't judge Steve's Chinese based on the fact that he used a certain expression 10 times in a video.


Ah, I forgot to say it is a very interesting and informational presentation regarding both the content and the Takahashi method. By the way, I also ordered the book because of your presentation ;-)


you're right, I do not know the number of Chinese words you know, I simply made the assumption that it should be "qualitatively" at least equivalent to your Russian and Czech since you often refer to Chinese, Japanese and French as your first tier languages. I think words are really easy to count in Chinese since there are no flections.

I believe, based on my wordlists that my passive vocabulary in Chinese is well below 20,000 words and that is after 5 years studying and living the language.

Again, I hope that Anthony will weigh in on this here. In the presentation he said that more recent studies suggest that previous estimates of word counts were an overestimation. I think he said 20,000 words (in English?) by age 20 and then further accumulation will be much slower so I don't think we continue at a rate of 1000/year until we are into our 70ies.

With regard to the word count in Chinese, the issue is not inflections. But rather how the characters combine to form words in the sense that we understand words. I don't know how this is dealt when it comes to word counts in Chinese, I just don't know.

However that is not the important point. The important point is that my active vocabulary in Chinese is not relevant to how many passive words I have acquired using LingQ in the languages I have studied most recently.

@Friedemann - the Chinese LingQ stats are just that - stats for work done on LingQ texts - so if someone hasn't read much Chinese in the last 10 years, let alone on this site, obviously the stats are not going to show anything like the amount learned from prior years.

If I spend more time reading LingQ Chinese or whatever, then those stats will always be higher than my Japanese say, even though my Japanese is my strongest L2. If your Chinese LingQ stats reflect everything you know, good for you. Mine certainly don't. I'm not in any hurry either to get my LingQ stats to match my current ability.

What am I missing here?
[didn't update quick enough to see Steve's post just then]

I was hoping that they would also upload the other presentations, no idea why it is taking such a long time.

Here are some samples of vocabulary size tests for English, based on work by ISP Nation (the author of the big fat boring book). The same webpage has frequency lists for vocabulary in French and English.

@Friedemann The conference organisers have assured people that the remaining presentations will be uploaded in the coming weeks. Remember, there were many hours of conference material, and the videos are being edited by one kind volunteer during his limited free time.

Looking forward to it!

Just performed the English test. The result was that I am somewhere in the 3000 - 5000 region.

English Test A / 3000-5000 level => SCORE IS 77%, need to work at this level. OK for me.

Hmm...this is supposed to be my native language, but I only scored 88% at the 10000/university test! :-0

The score would have been higher if I hadn't screwed up the spelling of one word, but still...

From this post, I can tell that I know at least fourteen words in English.

Yeah, I also misspelled words but still I was far from a full score. Maybe you can help me out since you are a native speaker: Which word are missing here (from the test I took):

- The kitten is playing with a ball of ya...
- The angry crowd sho... the prisoner as he was leaving the court.
- We could hear the sergeant bel... commands to the troops.

ball of yarn
shoved the prisoner
bellowing commands

This is an interesting case: "yarn" was a new word for me, "to shove" and "to bellow" were kind of passive passive vocabulary. If these are in the 5000 vocabulary size range I can only imagine what a person has to know with a vocab north of 20,000 words. This again brings me full circle back to the vocabulary size as calculated by Lingq and Steve's (sorry for bringing it up again) vocab count for his recent languages.

The crowd shot the prisoner...

To be honest, Friedemann, I'm not convinced that these tests mean very much. It says that I only know 88% of words known by university graduates. This is, frankly, bulls***! I am a graduate with first class hons, and there is certainly no university level text in English that I would have the slightest difficulty with.

Yes, "shot" is possible (but pretty unlikely!) :-D

"The crowd shot the prisoner..."

In fact the test is rather unambiguous. I don't think one would refer to shooting someone as a collective act of a crowd. The sentence is grammatically correct though.

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