Does Spanish have more words than English?
Hey guys, I am having a discussion with my mexican friend about which of the two languages has more words. I think it is English but she says it is Spanish. Does anyone know the answer? Thanks
English - about 1,000,000
Spanish - about 500,000
link text have a look here. 1,009,614 words in the English language.
One reason that English has a larger vocabulary is that it is a language with Germanic origins but a tremendous Latin influence, an influence so great that sometimes English seems more like French than it does like Danish, another Germanic language. The merging of two streams of language into English is one reason why we have both the words "late" and "tardy," words often interchangeable, while Spanish (at least as an adverb) has only tarde. The most similar influence that happened to Spanish was an infusion of Arabic vocabulary, but the influence of Arabic on Spanish isn't close to the influence of Latin on English.
Which language has the greatest amount of words?
Ask an Arab, and it will be Arabic.
Ask an Italian, and it will be Italian.
Ask a Greek, and it will be Greek.
Ask an Englishman, and it will be English.
Ask a Spaniard, and it will be Spanish.
Ask a Jew, and it will be Hebrew.
every language is totally different. Even every dictionary of the same language show us a different number of words. It all depends on the possibilities of a language (the speaking, because some languages just can't make more sounds to make more words). Like in chinese, they use the same words for totally different meanings, 1 word can have 15 meanings and more. So we can say that they have less words than spanish. And we must take into account that every single word of a language has its usefullness - in english if we know about 5000 words we can be sure that we will understand 99 % of what is being said to us in english, not talking about the specified language, like chemical. In spanish we use more words in common speech. And it's impossible to count the number of words in a specific language. From time to time there are new words implimented into a language. And there isn't one clear definition of a word. Like in my language, polish, there is conjugation of verbs, declension of nouns, adverbs, numbers, etc. They are just different form of one word, but some of the forms can sometimes be used in a different meaning. So, we can count the number of words by their meaning, or just by the words (as sounds). This makes it all impossible to count the number of words.
During a normal day you may use about 1000 words, but also 10 000. Some words are useless in a language, and some are obligatory.
Apparently most reliable sources say it is English, and I think it is fair to say that it has a lot more than Spanish, but measuring this is not an easy task. Judging from the size of the dictionary we can't conclude much, because the famous Oxford dictionary is packed with technical terms and even place names, whereas other dictionaries like the RAE one do not include technical terms or place names unless they are commonly used and they see them as significant for some reason. But that does not mean that similar terms do not exist in Spanish; it is quite easy to think of a technical term in Spanish that cannot be found in this dictionary, at least for me. And then, the Oxford dictionary and others include every thing they come across, like a Latin term that one writer has used once for the first time, popular terms that suddenly come up, like Homer's famous "doh!" or ridiculous words like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, whether they are just temporary fashion or words that are used by 3 people in the world; any term someone hears from a foreigner and someone uses a couple of times is almost instantaneously added to the dictionary as if everyone used it. The RAE would never consider any of those words, even if they saw them, because they like to wait a long time before including a term. English also creates lots of words, and dictionaries include them extremely fast, so you'll find MRSA (not that new, by the way) even in a English pocket dictionary, but not in the RAE, because it is "too technical", and because they don't normally include acronyms either. The term does exist in Spanish, and doctors use it, but it is not in the dictionary. Considering these factors, it is no wonder that English has more words than any other language. I'm sure that if people from another language began to create hundreds of words per day, add all foreign words they see once, plus medical terms, interjections, acronyms, ancient Latin, Greek and Sanskrit terms... they would catch up with English, and even overtake it soon.
Many natives' dictionary vocabulary can be as low as 10,000 words, while the average (depending on the country) varies from 15,000 to 25,000, more or less. Above that it is considered a good vocabulary. Some medium sized dictionaries don't even go over 30,000 words. So English might have a huge vocabulary, but nearly no speaker who knows even half of it.
Here's a good article on this topic. The bottom line is that English has roughly twice as many words available as Spanish does. The tricky part is getting anyone to agree on which words to count. However you do it, though, English has a lot of words.