Extent of My Vocabulary

I read somewhere that Shakespeare had a vocabulary of over 30,000 words. Apparently, this is a huge amount and most people don’t have such an extensive vocabulary. This got me thinking about the size and content of my vocabulary. So I’ve decided I am going to measure my vocabulary.

The problem is, I’m not sure how to go about this. I’ve thought of a few ways but I’m not sure how practical they are.

1) I could look over my past entries word by word and write down each new word that I come across.
2) I could comb through a dictionary word by word and record every word I am familiar with.
3) Or maybe I should just listen to the words I use when I speak. I could record everything I say in the course of a day by using my digital tape recorder. I could then play it back and count each new word.

Maybe I would need to do all three of these things to get a true measure. I am sure that there are words I only use in certain contexts. I wonder if I write words I never say, or say words that I never write. I wonder if there are words that I never use in either my writing or my speaking but I would know them to read them.

Vocabulary is a very interesting thing. I think that I know a lot of words, but I often come across words I don’t know. I bet I get by with only using a small and insignificant amount of words on a daily basis.

The funny thing is that Shakespeare never would’ve dreamt that his work would be so influential that people would actually study it in such detail hundreds of years later. I wonder if he consciously chose to introduce new words. I wonder if he strove to increase his vocabulary. Or maybe he was just brilliant and no other writer will be able to measure up to him. Still though, we could measure ourselves. What do you think?