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A Vocabulary is a single-language lexicon of vocabulary items that a linguistic agent can use (to compose entire linguistic expressions).



  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocabulary#Definition_and_usage
    • Vocabulary is commonly defined as "all the words known and used by a particular person".[1] Knowing a word, however, is not as simple as simply being able to recognize or use it. There are several aspects of word knowledge which are used to measure word knowledge.


  • http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vocabulary
    • 1. A usually alphabetized and explained collection of words e.g. of a particular field, or prepared for a specific purpose, often for learning.
    • 2. The collection of words a person knows and uses. My Russian vocabulary is very limited.
    • 3. The stock of words used in a particular field. The vocabulary of social sciences is often incomprehensible to ordinary people.
    • 4. The words of a language collectively. The vocabulary of any language is influenced by contacts with other cultures.
  • (Wikipedia, 2009) ⇒ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocabulary
    • A person's vocabulary is the set of words they are familiar with in a language. A vocabulary usually grows and evolves with age, and serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge.
    • A vocabulary is defined as "all the words known and used by a particular person". [1] However, the words known and used by a particular person do not constitute all the words a person is exposed to. By definition, a vocabulary includes the last two categories of this list:[2]
  • (WordNet, 2009) ⇒ http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=vocabulary
    • S: (n) vocabulary (a listing of the words used in some enterprise)
    • S: (n) vocabulary, mental lexicon (a language user's knowledge of words)
    • S: (n) vocabulary (the system of techniques or symbols serving as a means of expression (as in arts or crafts)). “he introduced a wide vocabulary of techniques"

  • How many words are there in the English language? http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutenglish/numberwords
    • The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries. Over half of these words are nouns, about a quarter adjectives, and about a seventh verbs; the rest is made up of interjections, conjunctions, prepositions, suffixes, etc. These figures take no account of entries with senses for different parts of speech (such as noun and adjective).

      This suggests that there are, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the OED, or words not yet added to the published dictionary, of which perhaps 20 per cent are no longer in current use. If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million.

  • http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/howmany.htm
    • And in a wider sense, what do you include in your list of words? Do you count all the regional variations of English? Or slang? Dialect? Family or private language? Proper names and the names of places? And what about abbreviations? The biggest dictionary of them has more than 400,000 entries — do you count them all as words? And what about informal and formal names for living things? The wood louse is known in Britain by many local names — tiggy-hog, cheeselog, pill bug, chiggy pig, and rolypoly among others. Are these all to be counted as separate words? And, to take a more specialist example, is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the formal name for bread yeast, to be counted as a word (or perhaps two)? If you say yes, you’ve got to add another couple of million such names to the English-language word count. And what about medical terms, such as syncytiotrophoblastic or holoprosencephaly, that few of us ever encounter?

      The other difficult term is vocabulary. What counts as a word that somebody knows? Is it one that a person uses regularly and accurately? Or perhaps one that will be correctly recognised — say in written text — but not used? Or perhaps one that will be understood in context but which the person may not easily be able to defined This distinction between what linguists call active and passive vocabularies is hard to measure, and it skews estimates.

      The problem doesn’t stop there. English speakers not only know words, they know word-forming elements, such as the ending -phobia for some irrational fear. A journalist rushing to meet a deadline might take a word he knows, like Serb, and tack on the ending to make Serbophobia. He’s just added a word to the language (probably only temporarily), but can he really be said to have that word in his vocabulary? If nobody ever uses it again, can we legitimately count it? By reversing the coining process, a reader of the newspaper can easily work out the word’s origin and meaning. Has the reader also added a word to his vocabulary?



  • (Sheidlower, 2006) ⇒ Jesse Sheidlower. (2006). “Are there really 988,968 words in the English language? http://www.slate.com, Posted Monday, April 10, 2006.
    • The problem with trying to number the words in any language is that it's very hard to agree on the basics. For example, what is a word? If run is a verb, is the noun run another word? What about the inflected forms ran, runs, and running? What about words with run as a base, such as runner and runnable and runoff and runway? Are compounds, such as man-bites-dog, man-child, man-eater, manhandle, man-hour, man of God, man's man, and men in black, to be counted once or many times?

      What about obvious forms? Dictionaries include great-grandfather but not great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, which is real enough to get over 3,500 Google hits. Only the most basic numbers are typically included; Merriam-Webster, for example, includes twenty-one and twenty-two, but not twenty-three or thirty-one. In fact, if you were to count every number between 0 and 999,999 as a word, you'd have a cool million right there — and still have the rest of the English language to account for.


  • (Carter, 1998) ⇒ Ronald Carter. (1998). “Vocabulary: Applied Linguistic Perspectives; 2nd edition." Routledge.
    • One theoretical notion which may help us to resolve some of the above problems is that of the lexeme. A lexeme is the abstract unit which underlies some of the variants we have observed in connection with 'words'. Thus BRING is the lexeme which underlies different grammatical variants: 'bring', 'brought', 'brings', 'bringing' which we can refer to as word-forms (note a lexeme is conventionally represented by upper-case letters and that quotation marks are used for its word-forms). Lexemes are the basic, contrasting units of vocabulary in a language. When we look up words in a dictionary we are looking up lexemes rather than words. That is, 'brought' and 'bringing' will be found under and entry for BRING. The lexeme BRING is an abstraction. It does not actually occur itself in texts. Instead, it realizes different word-forms. Thus, the word-form 'bring' is realized by the lexeme BRING; the lexeme GO realizes the word-form 'went'. In a diction each lexeme merits a separate entry or sub-entry....

      An important question which also arises her concerns our own metalanguage in this book. Should we talk of words or word-forms or lexemes or lexical items? It is clear that the uses of these words word or vocabulary have a general common-sense validity and are serviceable when there is no real need to be precise. They will continue to be used for general reference. The terms lexeme and the word-forms of a lexeme are valuable theoretical concepts and will be used when theoretical distinctions are necessary. Lexical item(s) (or sometimes vocabulary items or simply items) is a useful and fairly neutral hold-all term which captures and, to some extend, helps to overcome instability in the term word, especially when it become limited by orthography.