So, how many words are there in Ukrainian language, how can we compare this language’s development with others, and does it have any perspectives at all?
The exact number of words in the language is difficult to calculate – codification is always one step behind the living language – it changes all the time, borrows something new, enriches itself with neologisms, gets rid of outdated and unnecessary forms. In addition, there are dialects, used only in limited areas and professional jargons of narrow areas. Therefore, all figures cited for the quantitative description of language’s vocabulary are very approximate.
Even the number of words in the dictionary of modern developed nations can not be an absolute indicator of their lexical scope. In the largest compendium to date, the Ukrainian Language Dictionary in 11 volumes there are around 134 thousand words, but this dictionary lacks many modern scientific terms, words that entered the language after 1980s, including current loanwords. However, the dictionary does include a large number of outdated vocabulary…
Ukrainian language also faces the problem of so-called “repressed vocabulary” — words that were used prior to 1930’s and then were forced out of use by Stalin regime, those words are unlikely to ever return to the spoken language.
In lexical catalogues of the Institute of Linguistics there are about 2 and a half million cards.. This Institute is going to publish the new Dictionary of Ukrainian Language in 13 volumes.
Strange, but Ukrainian Wiki (as for 08.2013) does not say anything about the number of words in Ukrainian, English Wiki has mentioned the Dictionary of Ukrainian Language in 11 volumes contains 135,000 entries.
In the “Aeneid” by Kotlyarevsky (one of the first major literature masterpieces of modern Ukrainian language) one of the researchers has found 7,000 unique words.
The vocabulary of entire Shakespeare’s heritage – 26-30 thousand words;
Pushkin’s – 21,000;
Lenin – more than 37,000;
Shevchenko (one of the greatest Ukrainian poets) – 20,000.
2-3 thousand words are enough for everyday talk at the household level. Good graduate knows about 10,000.
Word creation in the modern Ukrainian happens now mainly thru borrowing from English and Russian.
The vocabulary of almost all the science branches, is underdeveloped, many terms have no translations at all. Transliterated English terms and Russian ones are often used instead.
in English there’s one million words;
in Chinese (all dialects that belong to the “Chinese”) – 500 000 +,
in Russian – 137 000 or 257 000 (according to the latest 17 -volume dictionary БАС);
in Japanese – 232 000;
in Spanish – 225 000.
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