Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
I was looking up the ''richest'' languages in the world.
I came across that Greek is richest language with 5 million words, while some other source claims English with a few hundred thousand words. I don't know whether they are referring to distinct roots or including the different forms of words.
However, when I looked up the Arabic language, some sources said it had 250 thousand words while others said 500 million words, such extreme deviation between results is confusing me. I am a native Arabic speaker and I am pretty sure there are over a million words at least, i.e. roots. Many of the words used back a few thousand years ago are still found in the Arabic dictionary but they are never used nor understood, and such words comprise a pretty big portion of the language. So can you please clear the misconception or confusion regarding the approximated or relative number of words between Arabic, Greek and English?
The conflicting information that you found shows two things: first, that people reach different results about numbers of things depending on what they're counting and how they're counting, words included; and second, that anyone can claim their language is the richest, best, tops of all, since no one agrees on what richest, best and tops can possibly mean. Even, that is, if we knew "all" about "all" languages in the world, which we of course don't.
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