Chinese Man Memorizes 100,000 English Words

November 11, 2007 12:00 am Last Updated: November 11, 2007 12:00 am

Mr Yi, a resident in Qingdao city, Shandong Province, claims he has memorized 100,000 English words. Yi has been in Beijing since Nov. 5 to find anyone who can memorize more English words than him. His search brought him to Beijing after being unable to find someone to challenge him in his hometown for the past 10 years.

Beijing Morning News reported that Yi, 39, has a mother who is an English teacher, so he started to learn English at 3 years old. He always carries an 80,000-word Oxford Dictionary with him.

“Whoever I meet, I want them to test me.” Yi said confidently.

He was always the winner of English contests in Shandong Province from elementary to high school. Later, he found that reading could no longer increase his vocabulary.

“The words used in almost all articles are within a certain range. I could only encounter a new word once in a while. After I looked them up in the dictionary, I could remember them. I felt unsatisfied,” Yi said. “So I bought a dictionary. In less than 3 months, I read the dictionary 5 minutes a day and memorized all the words, including the newly-created words.”

Yi said that memorizing the dictionary was a painful experience. It's not because it's difficult to memorize the words, but it's hard to find a new word.

“If I could not find a new word for one day, I would feel like a failure. As a result, I could not fall asleep that night and had to get up at midnight to search the dictionary until I found a new word. After memorizing that word, I would feel happy—finally, I learned something that day,” Yi explained.

Yi works as an interpreter. He said because he has a large vocabulary, his customers always feel satisfied with his interpretations. He claims that he has thoroughly memorized all the words in some of the big dictionaries, such as the Cambridge Dictionary with 100,000 words, Oxford and Longman both with 80,000 words, and Collins with 70,000 words.

He said that 95 percent of words are the same in these dictionaries, but some individual words have specific significance. He has memorized them all and can use them at will. “The vocabulary of GRE and GMAT [graduate school admission exams] are too easy for me. There is no word in them that I don't know,” Yi said.

Yi has applied to the Guinness World Records for his ability in memorizing English words since 2003, but recently received a reply that they have not established this category.

Yi said that he has looked for competitors in most colleges in Shandong Province, including Shandong University and Shandong Normal University, but no one could compete with him. So, he came to Beijing to find a rival.

“Not being able to find an equal competitor is bitter for me. I really hope to find a master to challenge me so that I can be satisfied.” Yi said.