Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Do you know the meaning of any of the words below?


I would be surprised if you do! They are all non-words - created to be used in vocab tests with students to see if they recognise 'real' words from words that are plausible non-words ie. they LOOK like words but don't have any meaning. Feel free to add any words that YOU have made up that sound like an English word, but aren't real at all!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Size of your vocabulary

Test Your Vocabulary I received this link in a recent email. It is a site intended to measure the vocab of both native and non-native English speakers. You tick the words that you know from a selection and at the end of the test it gives you an approximate total of the number of words you know in English. My result was between 30-40 thousand words... which is quite a lot of vocabulary! It's a very general test as it doesn't actually test your knowledge, but relies on you identifying which words you don't actually know!

The blog
that talks about the test has some interesting facts and figures about vocab sizes generally - an excerpt below.

We've made two discoveries so far. The first is that, for native speakers age 18+, most people (74%) have a vocabulary size between 20,000 and 35,000 (13% below, and 13% above). Of course, this is for the specific subset of people who are Internet users and have taken our test so far.

Our second discovery is much more interesting, a statistic we haven't come across anywhere before. We calculated average vocabulary sizes for native English speakers for ages 15–32, which is the range of ages for which we have at least 100 respondents per year of birth, and discovered there is a remarkably linear progression from 23,303 words (age 15) to 29,330 words (age 32), which works out to an average increase of 355 words per year, or almost exactly one new word a day (0.97 words to be precise).

What I find intriguing is that my age and the total I got tally with their suggestion that I am learning about one new word a day!

newbie and other words with ie endings

I came across the word 'bestie' for the first time the other day. It was used on a Facebook posting of a picture of my daughter and one of her very close friends and underneath someone had added the caption 'Besties' ie. best friends.

We seem to have a habit of doing this in NZ. We start off when the kiddies are quite little by getting them to eat veggies, bickies and chippies. Then they grow up and become chippies, sparkies or posties. What other words can you think of that we shorten with an 'ie' ending?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wassup? It's official

Well, wassup has officially entered the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary, says an article that describes some of the newest words the dictionary contains. It already has 600,000 words in it - is there really room for more? Well, FYI and LOL, most commonly used in text language, have now found their way into the dictionary.

'English is universally considered to be the richest spoken language in terms of number of words.' And I learnt that acronyms - where you have letters that stand for something like MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) and scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) are only acronyms if they are actually pronounced as a word rather than just the letters. So NCEA (our exam/qualification system in schools) is NOT considered an acronym.

Monday, March 7, 2011

blended words

I was listening to the news the other day, and the announcer was talking about two countries and said they were frenemies. This was the first time I'd heard this blended word and it made me think about some of the other words that have been created out of two separate words. Most of you are probably familiar with brunch - a combination of breakfast and lunch. But have you heard of...

smog - a mix of smoke and fog
spork - a spoon-shaped fork
sitcom - a situation comedy
camcorder - a camera that records video
motel - a hotel for people that drive motors (cars)

Perhaps you could make up some of your own, and add them here by commenting on the post!