Reporter’s Notebook: 27,500 Is The Average- Where Do You Fit In?

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“Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words! I get words all day through” sung by Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady

If only she had an accounting of how many words she knew. Do you have any idea as to the extent of your vocabulary? As writers we should be aware of our resources, with words rising to the top of that list.

Now there is an on-line test which, according to its website, functions by means of a quick three-part test: the first part with a handful of words to determine the general vocabulary level, a second part with a larger but narrower selection of words to determine the vocabulary level with greater precision, and a final (optional) survey to collect statistical information.

As of 5/2013 they had tabulated two million completions of their survey:

  • Most adult native test-takers range from 20,000–35,000 words

  • Average native test-takers of age 8 already know 10,000 words

  • Adult native test-takers learn almost 1 new word a day until middle age

  • Adult test-taker vocabulary growth basically stops at middle age

I learned about this test from a blog by Maeve Maddox on the Daily Writing Tips website. Maeve “discovered the site by way of an article in the Economist.” Words lead us to other words. So, how many words do you know?

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