sara_tanaquil: (bad kanji)
[personal profile] sara_tanaquil
This one was really interesting! (From the koohii forums, again. I'm not sure if I need to spend more time there, or less. So full of interesting ways to waste time.) It purports to be a test that can determine roughly how many words you know in Japanese from a fifty-word quiz. (Brought to us by the publisher of an electronic CD dictionary, apparently.)

I was hoping the test was endlessly self-generating, but actually it seems like there are only three versions (too bad, it would be a fun way to test change over time). As far as I can tell from trying the first two, the tests are progressively harder, but interestingly, although I was able to identify far fewer words on the second one, both reported that I had a similar level of vocabulary: between 15,000 and 16,000 words. (Which is elementary school level, if you want a depressing statistic. Of course native speakers recognize all sorts of random words a foreign speaker typically wouldn't. University graduates allegedly can recognize something in the range of 40-50K words. I wonder how adult native speakers do on the test.)

I have no idea how statistically accurate the test is, but 15K sounds about right to me (maybe a tad high) - I have an anki deck of about 9000 vocab words that I routinely run through, and there must be a lot of words that aren't in my deck that I recognize just from casual reading.

I'd be really curious to know what my more fluent friends would score on the test!

Date: 2014-03-29 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I tried it and got a result of 54,500, but...I wasn't sure how to answer some of them. For example, what if it's a word that I can pronounce and know the individual meanings of each kanji in the compound, so I wouldn't have any problems running across it in a book, but I wouldn't be able to use it in a sentence? Do I "know" it?

Date: 2014-03-30 02:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, cool! As always, you give me something to aspire to.

I used Rikaichan (the firefox plugin) to check a bunch of them. If the compound meant what I thought it did and was pronounced the way I expected, I marked it as known, otherwise not. But mostly they weren't even close; the words were either familiar or totally unfamiliar to me.

It was funny how far some of the meanings were from the kanji. I don't think I would ever have guessed that 道化方 meant jester (road-change-direction?), but then again, I wouldn't have remembered that 道化 was "clown", even though I know perfectly well what a どうけ is. (道化のバギー!) Oh, Japanese.

Curiosity led me to try out a comparable test for English. Interestingly, if the statistics on that page are correct, most native adult English speakers recognize 15-30K words and the statistical curve tops out around 40K. (I was around 39K - way, way too much time spent with my nose buried in a book as a child.)

I knew the common-use vocabulary for English was smaller than that for Japanese (again, according to that site, the average foreign speaker of English would know 5-9K words), but it was surprising to see that even when counting all the wacky only-ever-seen-in-Dickens words, the working vocabulary for English seems to be significantly smaller than that for Japanese. I wouldn't have expected the gap to be that great.

Date: 2014-03-31 01:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I wouldn't have expected the gap to be that great.

Yeah, me neither. I got 27,700 for Japanese (junior high level, sighhhh) and 29,800 for English, and I certainly don't feel like my vocabulary levels for the two languages are comparable.

As a note of interest, if I check 輪タク (a word that made me facepalm when I looked it up), I go up to 41,900. Well, I guess I'll never forget that word now.

Date: 2014-04-01 01:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As a note of interest, if I check 輪タク (a word that made me facepalm when I looked it up), I go up to 41,900. Well, I guess I'll never forget that word now.

Ha! I wonder how many thousands of words' credit I got for recognizing ライニング?

Date: 2014-04-01 12:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I just checked (for science!), and it seems you have to have three boxes checked in the last column to make any difference. So 輪タク only matters to my score because I already have lining and parallax checked.

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