Fwd: Re: English words in English

Timothy Mason (mason@CIE.FR)
Fri, 30 Aug 1996 18:40:25 -0500

-- [ From: Timothy Mason * EMC.Ver #2.5.02 ] --

Iain Walker wrote:
> I wonder how many words in the English language _aren't_ derived from
> other languages. The list would be very short. I think "okay" would
> qualify. :^)

and Ronald Kephart replied

>According to Language Files (6th ed, 1994, Ohio State U Linguistics
Department) the sources of the >1000 most frequently used words of
Contemporary English break out as follows (I have rounded off >the numbers):

>Anglo-Saxon 62%
>French 31%
>Latin 3%
>Scandinavian 2%
>Other 2%

This could imply that one might - just - get by with a linguistically
purified vocabulary. However, it should be remembered that the 1000 most
frequently used words are in large part the basic bones of the language,
forming the skeleton around which meaning will be constructed - and that's
where all those damn foreign words come in. By the way, the average 6 year-
old has a vocabulary of more than 2,000 words. Most people have a working
vocabulary that is far larger than that. What is the breakdown for the 6,000
most common words?


Timothy Mason

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