A language fluency scale for use in this subforum

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Fraggle Rocker, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    None taken. (We boys in the correct shade of blue have been known, on occasion, to be less than flattering to the senior service). I knew about the "limey", but I'd only ever come across shit on a shingle as the *cough* meal.

    Besides, when it comes navies I recall the messages passed between a pair ships of each nation at the close of WWII.
    USN to RN: Greetings to the second largest navy in the world.
    RN to USN: And greetings to the second best.

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  3. leopold Valued Senior Member

    there is little doubt about britains mastery of the seas prior to WW2.
    carriers would still be in the dark ages if it wasn't for the steam catapult.
    and let's not forget all those obscure british naval terms such as sister hooks.
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  5. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Really? I'd always heard it to refer to the legendary Mystery Meat served in kitchens-chipped beef on toast.


    Of course limes keep forever, so sailors ate them to prevent scurvy.

    (Rickets=vitamin D deficiency, scurvy=vitamin C deficiency...although looking them up, they actually both cause the runs-severe diarrhea-I just knew rickets caused bowlegs, while scurvy causes bleeding gums, tooth loss, infection.)
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  7. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    And death. Which I hear can be pretty serious.
  8. leopold Valued Senior Member

    yes,really. it's actually a derogatory term because british sailors were called tars and shingles were coated with tar hence shit on a shingle.
    must have been.
    not sure about limes shelf life though.
  9. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    I can assure you, quite true. I purchased a bag of them...and the bag was buried in the fridge.
    When I found them again over two months later, they were still fine, if brown on the outside.
  10. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    @Spud. Tough test. There were some I wasn't sure of,
    And a few others I didn't know at all.


    The test was set in the 1920's and some words may have fallen out of use or changed spelling.
    That's my excuse anyway.

    Tret is an obscure legal word.
    Staminody, a botanical word.
    For polypus we would now use polyp, and for weazened, wizened. I'll give myself them.
    I thought a hoyden was a prostitute, and it ain't.
    As for Kail, it doesn't exist. Unless he means Kale.

    Springe, sounds like something that gets lost when you are repairing a watch.
    Xiphoid. I know that's a shape, but no further.
    Plantigrade. I should know that word but I don't.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  11. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    It's an either/ or.
    Check out my link to The Times - and see just how many are still used.
    Or look at this post for some of those words.
  12. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Unmoor? means to undock a ship...untie the mooring lines. Right?
    Vertex is where two lines(usually on a graph) intersect?

    I admit to giving myself cred for torose because I know the word torus...err rather thought I did...oop, had to remind myself...it's a donut. a 3-d ring.

    So maybe being too generous to myself again....

    So I guessed that something that was torose was "like a torus," and since I've read "The Integral Trees "and "The Smoke Ring", I very vaguely remembered what a torus was.

    Can't say too much about those two books, absolutely gorgeous.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
  13. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Or simply "the highest point".
  14. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Yes that's what I thought.
    It's wrong.
    Torose means
    a. bulging, knobbly; muscular. torous, a. torosity, n.

    The word you are thinking of is toroidal.

    As for Winston Churchill having a huge vocabulary, I don't think that's true.
    He was a great orator, but that comes from using common words well rather than from using unusual words.
    His was the poetry of
    I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
    Masterful, and simple.

    Once you go much above 20,000 words, your vocabulary is more likely to confuse than inform.
    You can salt your speech with a few jawbreakers, but use too many and you sound ridiculous.

    They can be used deliberately.
    A doctor might talk to another doctor about a torosity instead of a tumour, if he doesn't want you to understand.
    Parents use long words to talk over the heads of their children.

    Words like tret and springe are useful for Scrabble, but not much else.
    They may have been more familiar in the 1920s, when Latin legal phrases were admired, and hunting was still in vogue.

    A clever way to slip in a nice word that is likely to be misunderstood, is to surreptitiously define it.

    The valetudinarian habit of discussing his health had grown on Rose... -- Florence Anne Sellar MacCunn, Sir Walter Scott's Friends, 1910, p. 234

    Is valetudinarian used these days at all? People say hypochondriac don't they?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  15. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    As I say, much of it was biological, which was a bias. I did check some words and found I'd gotten about four wrong. And I realized I actually rounded up on my K-score. So 80 words.
  16. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    My error of generosity in assuming someone meant to say
    he knew more rather than less than he did when he got out
    of school? I would think tears more appropriate, but not on
    account of my error.

    I know you provided a citation. I was asking that you address
    the contradicion between your source and mine. I see now
    that you make certain assumptions about and automatically
    prefer the most recent.

    Pardon me, wrong link, and "ur" was my misreading.

    Here is the right link:


    In this context meaning etymology, not physics, chemistry, etc.

    Yes, but your source does not mention the word "computer",
    and even if it did some blurred vision might be expected.
  17. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    Sorry, but I cannot disentangle what you are getting at.
  18. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    I don't. How do you?

    And you don't think that as time goes on we have more resources available? Better methods of establishing what is and is not the case?

    You asked why I didn't address my answer to you. It was because it wasn't you that asked the question.
  19. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    My impression is that do/want/dog would be counted
    as one word each in professional vocabulary size evaluation.

    I don't know about inflection, but Chinese has at least four tones.

    Such information must be available without having to go to so much trouble.

    No way of telling other than by a survey/test.

    I accept that the metaphor may be too inexact to get
    my point across. It was was meant as an allusion to the
    fact that anyone can tell Joyce's writing stinks.

    The problem is that there is a tiny academic cottage industry
    which has been trying to tell us for 90 years that there is some
    merit to his jibberish, and thay they are the only people wise
    enough to recognize it.

    I think you probably underestimate yourself, and I have no doubt
    about my own ability to tell good writing from bad writing.

    Also, I seriously doubt that the entire literary community is
    on board in favor of Joyce. If they are so much the worse
    for them.

    Put simply Joyce is boring. Besides that he is deliberately
    obscure, with no redeeming feature in the form of lofty
    or stirring language.

    For example in contrast, Blake's poem The Tyger contains
    passages as as obscure (in bold red) as anything in Joyce:

    Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    In what distant deeps or skies
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand dare sieze the fire?

    And what shoulder, & what art.
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand? & what dread feet?

    What the hammer? what the chain?
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? what dread grasp
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

    When the stars threw down their spears,
    And watered heaven with their tears,

    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

    Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

    Now, most of us have no idea what is it for a Tiger
    to aspire to wings, or for a star to throw down a spear
    and weep, yet the expression is so penetrating that
    one read is enough for many of us to remember it forever.
    Hence the poem is one of the best-known works in
    English Literature.

    I first encountered it in about 1972-73 in John Fowles' novel
    The French Lieutenant's Woman.


    Good luck.


    I did not exactly accuse you of misusing a word, I thought
    you meant to use a different word.

    I have a slight tendency toward bravado. Very slight.

    "Parsimonious" is funny? Not all 5-syllable words are bad,
    and "Parsimonious" is one of the good ones.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
  20. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    I don't either.

    I would say it is a standoff except for having stumbled
    up this Wiki site which makes a claim for 2000 words
    first attested in Chaucer, and it names over 1000 of them,
    and maybe all of them. Furthermore, brief persusal leaves
    the impression on me that most are in use today.

    Words first attested in Chaucer

    The footnoting indentifies this as the source for the number

    Cannon, Christopher, The making of Chaucer's English: a study of words, Cambridge UP, 1998

    Our Messrs Crace and Cannon obviously need to get together,
    especially since they are both asociated with Cambridge U, and
    the Dean must wish for more scholarly concord than the two
    seem to have shown so far.

    All methods rely ultimately on researchers who have
    slogged through hardcover texts.

    I could see adding or substracted a handful of words,
    but not several hundred in the case of authors who
    have been closely read for as long as Milton and Shakespeare.

    Fine, I don't care enough to keep going on this one.
  21. Gustav Banned Banned


    13250 on test c
    did i win?

    i see Schrödingers dog is foaming at the mouth
    probably rabies
    probably gotta be put down
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
  22. quinnsong Valued Senior Member

    OMG I am a hoiden! I think I will change my name to quinnhoiden!

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  23. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    I'd agree with that.
    A good general vocabulary would put you on 15,000.
    Add words from whatever your field of expertise is, and other subjects you are familiar with, and you will be up to 20,000.
    Above that, you are exceptional.

    Shakespeare having a vocabulary of 100,000. Mmmh.......
    According to Marvin Spevack’s concordances to Shakespeare’s works, Shakespeare’s complete works consist of 884,647 words and 118,406 lines.

    On average, each line he wrote would have to have one of those unique words in it.
    This source, http://math.ucdenver.edu/~wbriggs/qr/shakespeare.html , says that in his works he used 30,154 words.
    That sounds more plausible.

    Of those 30,534 words, he uses 14,376 just once.
    It doesn't say how many of those words he made up himself, but my guess is that it would be a fair proportion.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011

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