I realise there are problems defining what exactly constitutes a "word" for the purposes of counting them. For simplicity, I'm happy to say that, for example, word, words, worded, wording, wordy, etc. are all just manifestations of a single word. Correspondingly, wordsmith, blacksmith, goldsmith, etc. don't really count as separate words at all, for my current context (since they're all directly derivable from XXXsmith).
What I want to know is, given the above concept of "word" (or something similar), is there any evidence to suggest that the active vocabulary of Anglophones (the words they actually use in normal speech, as opposed to words they know, or can guess from context) is significantly different to that of speakers of other languages?
Possibly supplementary to that, is there any truth to the idea that there might be "culturally impoverished" languages? That's to say, languages spoken by people whose culture has less "real-world referents", so they might not "need" so many words? (no iPads, CAT scanners, or electioneering, for example). If so, do those people have a smaller "active vocabulary" than more "complex, advanced" societies?