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Strange

Which language has most words

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1 hour ago, Charles 3781 said:

Has the English language got a larger vocabulary than any other language?

Please cite another language  with a larger vocabulary.

This is an interesting but, ultimately, fairly meaningless question. (Also, it isn't obviously related to the original point about English being "most rational, and sophisticated")

The problem is, mainly, how do you define a word. Do you count inflections as separate words: e.g are "dog" and "dogs" one word or two. What about different meanings: "dog" the animal versus the verb "to dog"; and what about all the different meanings of that verb. And then the conjugations of the verb (dog, dogs, dogged, dogging, etc). Is a hyphenated term one word or two (or more).

If you decide that the forms of a verb are separate words, then what about languages that have more complex verbs forms, or those that gave none.

Then, English uses a sequence of separate words to express a concept while Japanese, for example, uses a single word with multiple suffixes (e.g. "I did not want to eat" vs. "tabetakunakatta"). Does that make English or Japanese more "sophisticated? 

Then again, English has lots of irregular verbs (it sometimes like they are all irregular) whereas Japanese has only two common ones. So which is more "rational"?

Quote

Have you heard language experts say that English has more words than other languages? The claim is made but it’s practically impossible to verify.

...

A blog post for The Economist agrees that English is rich in vocabulary, but comparisons with other languages can’t be made for several reasons.

...

Another way of measuring the vocabulary in a language and comparing counts is by counting the number of words listed in a standard authoritative dictionary in that language.

...

Let’s ask a different, and we think more important, question:

Does it really matter?

https://blog.ititranslates.com/2018/03/07/which-language-is-richest-in-words/

 

p.s. I put this in "Other sciences" because I think linguistics counts as a science

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Well, I thought it was an interesting question. I'm sorry if you don't.

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Honey, you found that the English language has more words than any other language in the known Universe.  

Admit it!

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19 minutes ago, Strange said:

Well, I thought it was an interesting question. I'm sorry if you don't.

Well, I find it interesting. Thank you for raising it ( honey :) )

 

There's also the question whether or not loanwords should be included within a particular lexicon...

• Cafe; French

• Trek; Afrikaans

• Pyjamas; Urdu

• Bona fide; Latin

And the size of the English language will depend on whether these are to be counted as 'proper' English words.

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1 hour ago, Strange said:

This is an interesting but, ultimately, fairly meaningless question. (Also, it isn't obviously related to the original point about English being "most rational, and sophisticated")

The problem is, mainly, how do you define a word. Do you count inflections as separate words: e.g are "dog" and "dogs" one word or two. What about different meanings: "dog" the animal versus the verb "to dog"; and what about all the different meanings of that verb. And then the conjugations of the verb (dog, dogs, dogged, dogging, etc). Is a hyphenated term one word or two (or more).

If you decide that the forms of a verb are separate words, then what about languages that have more complex verbs forms, or those that gave none.

Then, English uses a sequence of separate words to express a concept while Japanese, for example, uses a single word with multiple suffixes (e.g. "I did not want to eat" vs. "tabetakunakatta"). Does that make English or Japanese more "sophisticated? 

Then again, English has lots of irregular verbs (it sometimes like they are all irregular) whereas Japanese has only two common ones. So which is more "rational"?

https://blog.ititranslates.com/2018/03/07/which-language-is-richest-in-words/

 

p.s. I put this in "Other sciences" because I think linguistics counts as a science

The thing is this.

If you truly consider that all languages are equal, that must mean you think that the Japanese language is just as good as the English language.

Therefore, why don't you suggest that we  conduct future discourse on this forum in Japanese?

Hai?

 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Charles 3781 said:

Honey, you found that the English language has more words than any other language in the known Universe.  

Admit it!

Do you consider Ebonics, English-based creoles and pidgins, like Walpiri, as English?

They all have different degrees of English features.

Edited by joigus

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10 minutes ago, joigus said:

Do you consider ebonics, English-based creoles and pidgins, like walpiri, as English?

They all have different degrees of English features.

Interesting question.

One might be tempted to ask: which language has the most dialects. But, even more than with words, there is no good definition of what is a language and what is a dialect!

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3 minutes ago, Strange said:

One might be tempted to ask: which language has the most dialects. But, even more than with words, there is no good definition of what is a language and what is a dialect!

I could hardly agree more with this. Language is an ever-changing, evolving structure.

Consider the word "smart." It means something in the UK, and has a different meaning in the US. And even today these meanings may be evolving towards a cluster of different meanings around the same word, due to the effects of more, and more efficient, communication bridges opening up across the Atlantic.

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13 minutes ago, joigus said:

Consider the word "smart." It means something in the UK, and has a different meaning in the US. And even today these meanings may be evolving towards a cluster of different meanings around the same word, due to the effects of more, and more efficient, communication bridges opening up across the Atlantic.

In japanese, the word スマート (sumaato < smart) means "slim", a pretty large semantic shift. (But maybe it is no longer the same word.)

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Strange said:

In japanese, the word スマート (sumaato < smart) means "slim", a pretty large semantic shift. (But maybe it is no longer the same word.)

Japanese is loaded with English loan words! +1 It has an English living inside its lexicon. For example:

エレベーター

ドア

Edit: Which leads us back to your previous question: What is a language? No simple answer.

Edit 2: I love this one:

ベルト (beruto) for "belt". LOL. I've forgotten most of my Hiragana and Katakana phonetics.

Edited by joigus
Addition

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10 minutes ago, joigus said:

Edit 2: I love this one:

How about エンスト (ensuto) for stalling a car (engine stop). Or レミコン (remicon) for ready mixed concrete.

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Come on guy's, don't you think you've rubbed Charles' nose in it by now? 

In dog, yes I can smell it FFS... 

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1 minute ago, dimreepr said:

Come on guy's, don't you think you've rubbed Charles' nose in it by now? 

In dog, yes I can smell it FFS... 

Oh, rest assured he's up to something by now. Probably confusing, un-related and un-nice. ;) Crackpottery and trolling are more than just a lifestyle.

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3 minutes ago, joigus said:

Oh, rest assured he's up to something by now. Probably confusing, un-related and un-nice. ;) Crackpottery and trolling are more than just a lifestyle.

I was attempting to satirise, but I was Trumped... 😣

 

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Many words also change meaning depending on inflection or body language. 

When spoken, a 'big' dog is a different size than a 'BIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!' dog.

And its 'smelly' poop is a different smell than its 'smelly 🤮' poop.

And speaking of poop...

 

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Since I stopped being involved in "my daddie's car is bigger than your daddie's car" arguments when  was six, I consider the title question rather pointless.

Better to discuss scientifically what to include in this list of words.

Scientifically how many living creatures are there ?

Don't they all have Latin names ?

How about the list of organic compounds - there are several million of these.
Each one is an English word.

There must be lots of other disciplines, not all scientific, with long lists of specialist words that do not appear in a standard dictionary.

Then, of course, many words both technical and in the dictionary have many different meanings.

So should the title ask "How many meanings can a language denote ?"

After all, the purpose of language is to convey meaning.

 

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58 minutes ago, studiot said:

How about the list of organic compounds - there are several million of these.
Each one is an English word.

They are generally words in most other languages, as well. (I know you are not making that point, but just in case)

58 minutes ago, studiot said:

So should the title ask "How many meanings can a language denote ?"

There is no limit. One of the defining characteristics of natural language is that it can be used to express any idea at all (despite all the "language X has no word for Y" articles you see on line). It is always possible to write a sentence that no one has ever seen or heard before, and for it to be understood by the listener/reader. Human brains are amazing.

58 minutes ago, studiot said:

Scientifically how many living creatures are there ?

Don't they all have Latin names ?

We have identified and named something like 10 million species, I think. But there may be billions more out there.

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Eponyms and toponyms are another scary field of lexicon, potentially limitless. In Chinese you've got quite many of them that have their own specific pictograph.

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2 hours ago, Strange said:

They are generally words in most other languages, as well. (I know you are not making that point, but just in case)

No they are defined in English according to IUPAC, which is purely conducted in English.

They do not have separate words in say French for this, everyone (thankfully) uses  (someone said borrows) the English to place into a sentence in say French.

Just as there is no French word for 'rugby' .

We have already seen examples of where English does the same from other languages.

I also noted that this is not true of the classification of living things.

I could note that many words in Earth Science (and other Sciences) spring from German, as well as the English ones.

English takes culinary words from French eg jambon, porc, boeuf.

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Considering that language is constantly evolving with new words being invented every time something new shows up, I am not sure what a vocabulary count is supposedly to show. Other perhaps than the mechanisms with which a given language creates new meaning. Some use loanwords (such as コンピューター for computer), others derive it from difference concepts. E.g. computer or the German word "Rechner" which both are derived from similar meanings (computare, calculating). Whereas in Chinese the computer is a brand new creation- 电脑 (literally electricity brain). 

I think there is a term for trying to make value judgements based on badly implementing quantitative approaches to linguistics, but the word eludes me right now. Anyhow, the thread has mostly discussed why the question in OP is mostly meaningless, anyway, so it has moved on to more interesting bits. 

48 minutes ago, studiot said:

No they are defined in English according to IUPAC, which is purely conducted in English.

The official body is English, but there are so-called national adhering organizations which are kind of the officials that translate these IUPAC standards.

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1 hour ago, studiot said:

No they are defined in English according to IUPAC, which is purely conducted in English.

But they become French words when used in French.

1 hour ago, studiot said:

Just as there is no French word for 'rugby' .

There is a word in French for rugby: le rugby. It is now a French word.

1 hour ago, studiot said:

We have already seen examples of where English does the same from other languages.

Exactly. "Deja vu" is an English word, for example. And アルバイト (from the German arbeit) is a Japanese word.

 

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Posted (edited)

smorgasbord, finesse, latte, pizza, siesta, zeitgeist, faux pas, guerrilla,...

katana, feng sui, voodoo, or d'oeuvres, lingerie, shaman, cul de sac, baton, bon apetit, epaulettes...

French seems to be le favori.

Edited by joigus
Addition

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20 minutes ago, joigus said:

smorgasbord, finesse, latte, siesta, zeitgeist, faux pas, guerrilla,...

All good English words!

Which reminds me of another great Japanese loanword: a buffet is a バイキング (baikingu, from Viking)

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