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?

6 responses to “Extent of My Vocabulary”

  1. Words are indeed fascinating but I wouldn’t spend the time trying to determine the bounds of your vocabulary. The time measuring could be used for writing.

    Just write, write naturally, write enjoyably and don’t worry about saying “indubitably” instead of “of course.”

  2. umm this week at my high school is a Shakespeare week and its crazy everything this week has to deal with him. And the school has actors from England come in and ones from the colleges that are majoring in theather. Sorry my spelling is off today I am still half a sleep. I have a lot of work to do and I have been up late working on everything. I love learning new words as long as I don’t have to memorize them for a test I’m all good.

  3. Trisia, that was an interesting game. I played it for a minute and got a rating of 32. Is that good?

    ECD, you are absolutely right. I actually tried to start counting words. What a waste of time. I have been doing a lot of writing this week and it feels great. It’s a much better use of my time.

    I write with a dictionary beside me but I really only use words that I know. I rarely uses a thesaurus for my writing. Sometimes the first word you think of is often the best and most concise to write.

    Lizzy Dizzy, sounds like a fun week.

  4. Every day one hears or read many new English words. It’s difficult to learn all the new words. It depends on us to how much extent can we enhance our Vocabulary. Thank you for sharing your list to enhance Vocabulary. 🙂