How many words does Spanish have?

Spanish has a lexicon of 800,000 to 1,000,000 words, of which more than 300,000 are scientific or technical terms. To this great total must be added between 50,000 and 100,000 local or international acronyms that are, basically, new words whose main characteristic is that they do not appear in the official dictionary, although some — such as radar, sonar, AIDS and UFO — they have already done it or will do it very soon. And to the words and acronyms that make up the river of the language, the waters of new voices from other languages are added every day. In its 1992 edition, the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy of the Language will collect about 90,000 words of those that circulate in Spanish.

Never before, then, have Spanish speakers had such a vast and rich vocabulary at their disposal to communicate. And yet, experts agree that Spanish is going through a period of great deterioration. To write Don Quixote, Cervantes needed less than 8,000 words; a cultured person uses just over 5,000; a high school graduate employs between 3,000 and 4,000; the common people defend themselves with a lexicon that does not exceed 2,000, and the goal of international television in Spanish would be to reduce its glossary to about a thousand terms that are clearly understandable throughout the Spanish-speaking world. If to this is added the functional illiteracy of those who cannot read or are incapable of expressing themselves in writing, which in Spain is 27 percent and in Latin America it is higher, it will be seen that written Spanish is in even more lamentable conditions. than the spoken.

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