European Languages

Most European Languages Face Digital Extinction

If we talk about endangered languages we usually think of indigenous languages that are spoken by only a small group of people. Therefore the study titled “Europe’s Languages in the Digital Age” by META-NET was a bit of a surprise to many, myself included.

It seems as if most European languages face “digital extinction” in the years to come. And that does not only include languages like Latvian, Lithuanian or Maltese but also German, Dutch, French, Italian and Spanish!

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how many words does a native english speaker know

How many Words does a Native Speaker know?

I came across this interesting question yesterday in a Facebook group about, you guessed it, languages. How many words do you know in your language? My first guess was about 3000, arguing that we need to know about 1500 words to speak a foreign language at a decent level. Hence, I assumed that about twice as many words would be OK for a native speaker.

After some research I have to say that I was quite far off! Taking the example of the vocabulary of a well educated native English speaker we are between 13.000 and 20.000 word families. A word family consists of a base word and its inflected forms and derivations. For example, when you know the meaning of time, you also know timely, timer, time zone etc.

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