LINGUIST List 4.794

Mon 04 Oct 1993

Misc: Homework Summary, Word Counts, Null Object

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  1. Deborah Milam Berkley, Re: 4.768: "homework" mini-summary
  2. Lindsay Endell, Re 4.721 How many words?
  3. Beard Robert E, Re: 4.776 Varia: Null object, OK, Nouns

Message 1: Re: 4.768: "homework" mini-summary

Date: Sat, 2 Oct 1993 15:53:30 -Re: 4.768: "homework" mini-summary
From: Deborah Milam Berkley <dberkleycasbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Subject: Re: 4.768: "homework" mini-summary

About my "homework" posting:

I heard from four people, besides the two people who responded on the list
itself. Two of them had noticed a shift for the word "homework" from a
count noun to a mass noun after a gap of some years (5 or 20) away from the
American university. One person commented that he had made the shift, but
hadn't noticed it till now. The fourth person said she uses it as a count
noun and assumed it was interference from French.

In short, all four people verified my observation that "homework" has
indeed changed from a mass noun to a count noun.

Deborah Milam Berkley
Northwestern University
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Message 2: Re 4.721 How many words?

Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1993 13:19:11 Re 4.721 How many words?
From: Lindsay Endell <lie1tower.york.ac.uk>
Subject: Re 4.721 How many words?

Matt Adams was wondering how many words people know. David Fay offered
Broadbent's estimate of 100,000.
Can I offer David Crystal's suggestion, from "The English Language" (1988)?

Take a medium-sized dictionary (around 100,000 entries).
A 2% sample should give a reasonable result so if there are about 2000
pages, we're looking at about 40 of them.
Spread your sample thro the letters (Crystal suggests 5 full pages from
e.g. C- ; EX- ; J- ; O- ; PL- ; SC- ; TO- ; UN-).
Write down one side of a sheet of paper all the headwords - all the bold
items in an entry, including phrases and idioms but ignoring alternative
spellings.

 Know Use
 Well Vaguely No Often Occasionally Never
Word
Word
Word

Place ticks appropriately in the 6 columns. The 'know' column in the
passive vocab, 'use' is active.
Add up the ticks in each column and multiply by 50 (if your sample is a 2%
one).
This is how many words you know!
Totalling the 'know' column apparently underestimates the vocab size,
totalling both 'know' and 'use' overstimates it.
Having a technical background with its own language will, of course,
affect your individual vocab size but you can try adjusting for that
yourselves.

This is obviously something to do to while away those long hours when you
aren't researching, writing or otherwise usefully engaged being linguists...

Lindsay

lie1tower.york.ac.uk
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Message 3: Re: 4.776 Varia: Null object, OK, Nouns

Date: Sun, 3 Oct 1993 21:46:50 -Re: 4.776 Varia: Null object, OK, Nouns
From: Beard Robert E <rbeardcoral.bucknell.edu>
Subject: Re: 4.776 Varia: Null object, OK, Nouns

 "Do you want to come with", "Can I go with" are Pennsylvania Dutch
constructions. You get the same contrunctions in contemporary German.
 --RBeard
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