How much literacy do you need to read Joyce?

Take a look at the article English literacy. If you are coming back, go on.

Since at the end of the day this site is driven by the difficulties presented by James Joyce's works translation and the solution presented is to motivate people to become literate in English on a lower level than perhaps Joyce had in mind, lets take a look about the difficulties of acquiring a second language. To give a general perspective, the Wikipedia entry is very good.

Coming down to the point , perhaps in an opposite view as it is given above on the panorama about the subject, it seems to me that the amount of words needed to reach a certain level is the key question for English. I stress that because Agreement in English is much simpler than it is in Romance Languages. Not to mention German, where the agreement becomes fairly complicated.

I have privileged four romance languages (Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian )and German in my site, but there is nothing preventing it to go to as many languages as desirable, because besides providing a solution to what I call the translation of Ulysses a wrong proposition, I designed a computer approach to tackle it that can absorb as many languages as desired, provided translations are available.

As matter of fact, these languages are spoken by a large number of persons in the Occidental World, which basically, or initially, is my target, and object of discussion above in the wrong proposition issue.

I haven't research extensively, because it seems to me a waste of time and I am concerned with sollutions not with problems, although any sollution can be seem as an adequate problem proposition, but most studies I found are concerned with children and very basic literacy.

Prof. Alexander Argüelles seems to be the person to address these problems and I have found from him the following estimate on amount of words needed to achieve specific levels o literacy, supposedly in more languages than English:

From How many words do you need to learn?

“The maddening thing about these numbers and statistics is that they are impossible to pin down precisely and thus they vary from source to source. The rounded numbers that I use to explain this to my students I usually write in a bull’s eye target on the whiteboard, but I don’t have the computer skills to draw circles in this post, so I will just have to give a list:

250 words constitute the essential core of a language, those without which you cannot construct any sentence.

750 words constitute those that are used every single day by every person who speaks the language.

2500 words constitute those that should enable you to express everything you could possibly want to say, albeit often by awkward circumlocutions.

5000 words constitute the active vocabulary of native speakers without higher education.

10,000 words constitute the active vocabulary of native speakers with higher education.

20,000 words constitute what you need to recognize passively in order to read, understand, and enjoy a work of literature such as a novel by a notable author.”


My aim here is to build a site written in English so that a person with a vocabulary somewhere between 2500 and 5000 words can understand it.

Anyway, if you are interested in the subject, take a look on a very interesting article by David Cristal and perhaps I shouldn't mention it, but compare his numbers with those above from Prof Arguelles and raise your eyebrow...

You can find David Crystal at