“There are about six times more words in the English language than in French. As of 2021 the Complete Oxford Dictionary has 600,000 unique words against 100,000 words (totaling 350,000 meanings) for the Grand Robert (the most complete French dictionary). The majority of the people only know from 15,000 to 30,000 words, and even good writers rarely know more than 50,000 words (in a same language). This gives an idea of the huge diversity of vocabulary and nuances available to users of English."
(source : English words and nuances that don't exist in French - Linguistics - Eupedia)
I love it !
I never realized there were so many more words in English than in French. I mean why would I ? I just fell upon the information by chance when I was looking for some info on the English language I could share for a post :-)
OK so once I had that info, I paid attention to when I was talking in one or the other of the languages. I now am aware of the fact that I am a lot more specific in English than in French. I realize that when I disagree with someone, I'm much better at explaining and convincing when I speak English than when I speak French because the words I use are very specific and I waste less energy on giving more context (should I be admitting that?).
Building on this new knowledge, I'm now consciously aware of things I intrinsically knew but that I never stopped to think about. Here are a few words that can get pretty confusing in French if you don't have context. While sometimes the context is obvious, other times you have to make sure you add a sentence that completes the idea you're trying to express.
This is true of any language of course, but a language with less words and therefore more words that can have multiple meanings (ie: French), might need a tad bit more context than one with many very specific unique meanings (ie: English). To be observed more closely by myself when I speak either language.
« 100,000 words (totaling 350,000 meanings) for the Grand Robert », entails that many words have more than one meaning in French and while sometimes which meaning we mean is obvious, other times , context if of the essence.
Here are a few concrete examples of French words that translate into 2 different words in English depending on the ontexte:
« Strong » vs « loud » which in French both translate into « fort ».
How does the person I’m talking to know, when I use « fort » whether I mean « strong » or mean « loud » ?
Contexte obviously. If I’m talking to someone about the concert I went to and how strong the music was, they would have no doubt about the fact that the music was « loud ».