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Exploring polysemy in the Academic Vocabulary List: A lexicographic approach

Skoufaki, Sophia and Petrić, Bojana (2021) 'Exploring polysemy in the Academic Vocabulary List: A lexicographic approach.' Journal of English for Academic Purposes. ISSN 1475-1585

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Abstract

The Academic Vocabulary List (AVL) (Gardner & Davies, 2014) is a valuable resource for EAP teachers and students as it identifies potential lexical learning/teaching targets. This study enhances the AVL's pedagogical usefulness by identifying polysemous lemmas in it. Polysemous AVL lemmas are operationalised as those with more than one definition in two lexicographic resources, the Collins COBUILD Advanced Learners' Dictionary and WordNet. This study also examines a theoretical issue, the relationship between the number of meaning senses of AVL lemmas and their frequency in an academic-English corpus. To this end, correlations were calculated between the numbers of AVL lemmas' meaning definitions listed in both lexicographic resources and their frequency in the COCA-Academic corpus. 34.38% of the 2673 AVL lemmas included in both lexicographic resources, excluding homonyms, are polysemous. Most (66.05%) come from the most frequent 1000 AVL lemmas. The number of meaning definitions of AVL lemmas and their frequency are positively correlated. This correlation is non-linear, i.e., low-frequency words tend to be monosemous but beyond a frequency threshold, word definitions increase as word frequency increases. Implications for future research and teaching are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Word frequency EAP
Uncontrolled Keywords: Polysemy, Vocabulary, Zipf, Meaning sense
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2021 09:07
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2021 09:07
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30956

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