A lexicographic Study: Medical Vocabulary in use

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Abstract

INTRODUCTIONInformation, research and new ideas in medicine are spread mainly by the written word. Therefore, reading and writing are fundamental skills in collecting information and building a wide knowledge base not only in the student population but even as practising physicians and specialists. Knowing lexical items is an important building block in developing both of these language skills. There are several different measures of lexicographic competence, such as the General Service List or GSL (West, 1953), Academic Word List or AWL (Laufer &Nation,1999; Coxhead, 2000) and Medical Academic Word List or MAWL (Wang, Liang & Ge, 2008).The purpose of this study is to measure lexical competence for effective reading and writing and we thus addressed two main questions: how many words do our students actually use, given the Latin-based origin of many medical terms and how does lexis use vary with acquisition of content knowledge in medicine.METHODS: We collected examples of student writing summarizing a clinical case and ran these two cohorts of student writing from different years of medicine in Palermo and Rome against GSL and MAWL wordlists using software by Heatley, Nation & Coxhead (2002). Data were collected as number of tokens used and word families present.RESULTS: We will present data concerning our most salient findings about whether any difference between data from Rome was significantly different from Palermo in terms of proficiency levels and production, what portion of GSL and MAWL was actually used by our students and how word use varies with content knowledge.DISCUSSION: We will discuss our findings in the context of our corpus size, the relationship to L1 and whether the generally used word lists have any correspondence to an actual academic context.REFERENCES Coxhead A. (2000). An Academic Word List. TESOL Quarterly, 34 (2): 213-238. Laufer B. & Nation I.S.P. (1999). A vocabulary-size test of controlled productive ability. Language Testing, 16 (1), 33-51 Wang, J. Liang, S.L & Ge, G.C. (2008). Establishment of a Medical Academic Word List. English for Specific Purposes, 27, 442-458. West M. (1953). A general service list of English words. London: Longman Heatley, A., Nation, I.S.P. and Coxhead, A. (2002). RANGE and FREQUENCY programs. Downloaded from http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/staff/paul-nation/nation.aspx [14 April 2008]
Lingua originaleEnglish
Pagine593-601
Numero di pagine8
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2011

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