This is embarrassing.
Whatever my flaws, and they are legion, I thought I could comfort myself that I had an excellent vocabulary. In English, I mean. I’ve probably forgotten more Spanish words than I remember (after having been fluent as a child).
So, having been humiliated by the Slate current events quiz Friday (which asks questions about stupid stuff that no discerning newshound would follow), I thought I’d give myself an ego boost with I saw this Tweet from a mommy-blogger (I suppose they’d say “mum-blogger”) in England:
I followed the link, and took the test. Basically, you click on the words that you know at least one definition of (and you’re on the honor system, so it was a little fuzzy on a definition, I wouldn’t click on that word), and it infers from that how many words you know.
I ended up with a score of 35,100 words. Which is just barely outside the normal range of 22,000-35,000 for most adult native English speakers. There are 300,000 main entries in the OED, so that means I only know a bit more than a tenth of all words in my own language.
Which is depressing. Because while I would expect to be well below the normal range in, say, sports knowledge, I would expect to blow out vocabulary totally, like, you know?
One bright spot, though — when I looked back at the screenshot I saved from my test, below, I noticed that I had failed to click on “awry.” I must have clicked at it and missed, or something. Which means the whole process went, you know, awry! (Also, if I had clicked that I knew “bibulous,” and someone had challenged me on it, my guess of what it meant would have been right — so maybe I should have had more confidence.) So my test score is invalid! I probably would have scored as well as the mum-blogger if I hadn’t been in such a hurry!