Much-heard words Think About It

September 09, 1998|By IRA Journal, April/May 1998

According to Richard Lederer, author of "Crazy English," there may be more than 600,000 words in English, but most of us don't use quite that many much of the time.

In a recent issue of Writer's Digest, Lederer says that the average English speaker has a vocabulary of 10,000 to 20,000 words but actively uses only a fraction of them, but is able to recognize the rest. Some linguists claim that nine words - the, of, and, a, to, in, it, for, and he - make up 25 percent of our speech.

Other linguists say that 34 more words, all of them one syllable, comprise the second 25 percent. And a recent study of telephone conversations in the United States, Lederer says, showed that only 737 words made up 96 percent of all conversations.

Pub Date: 9/09/98

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