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August 24, 2011


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Marc Leavitt

Hi Susan:
I took the test recently and found it very interesting. What I would find even more interesting would be a test surveying your entire vocabulary. You, for example, know other languages, as do I, and in addition to owning a vocabulary in one or more languages, many people know more than a smattering of vocabulary in additional languages. The methodology for such a test might be complicated - I simply don't know - but it would answer another question. By the way, you inadvertently reversed the letters in tatterdemalion.


Marc Leavitt

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, Marc, Sorry about the typo. I suppose you could replicate an experiment that Professor David Crystal did, namely ticking off all the words you know in, say, 20 or 30 random pages of a dictionary (or dictionaries if you wanted to include foreign languages), and extrapolating total vocabulary size from that. See this article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8013859.stm


The analysis, while predictable I guess, was interesting.

I'd love to see the model. In collecting data, what for example do they do with responses from people who did not take the SAT's?

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, John. Good point. I didn't take the SATs, for one.


I just re-took the quiz and entered "UK/IRELAND" and was not asked the SAT question; my score was as before.

Being totally confused over where I might eventually go to university, I did both O&C "O" Levels and SAT's.

Jemmy Hope

I don't know what SATS is/are. Should I bother taking the test?



"SAT"s are Scholarship Aptitude Tests, used in the US in a way similar to O and A levels.

I took the quiz as someone who did take the SAT (true) and again, indicating that I was from the UK (false) and the question re: SATs was not aaked. My results were the same.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks for replying to Jemmy, John. I was just about to. And thanks for your comment, Jemmy. You are extremely knowledgeable and well-read, it seems to me, so I'm sure you'll get a high score.

I've heard SATs being discussed among my children's friends who considered studying in the US. As John says, whereas in the UK a university offer might be AAB, in the US a SATs score would be given which you would have to achieve.

Actually we do have SATs in our education system in the UK, but they are tests taken by young children (aged 7, which is Key Stage 1, and aged 11, Key Stage 2).

Jemmy Hope

My comment was one of my pathetic attempts at humour (I know I should desist but I'm having trouble doing so).
My eleven year old granddaughter was telling me about her SATS results the other day. So I knew they were tests of some sort, but assumed they were like the end of year exams of my antediluvian schooldays.
There was a point of sorts to what I wrote, i.e., that we all have gaps in our knowledge, so a perfect score is unlikely to be attainable.
I did do the test out of curiosity, and in the cause of scientific research of course.

English Translator

I think it is unfair to make small kids take SATS, I think that up until kids are teenagers, they should not be tested and labelled as every child progresses at a different speed.


I have two kids at school, one in Y2 and the other in Y5 and I am amazed how quick kids pick up reading and writing nowadays, my daughter who is currently in Y2 continues to astound me with her knowledge.

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