Identifying technical vocabulary
journal contributionposted on 25.06.2020 by Paul Nation, T Chung
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
This study compared four different approaches to identifying technical words in an anatomy text. The first approach used a four step rating scale, and was used as the comparison for evaluating the other three approaches. It had a high degree of reliability. The least successful approach was that using clues provided by the writer such as labels in diagrams, typographical marking, and definitions. Using a technical dictionary was more successful, but had an accuracy rate around 80%. The fourth approach compared frequency of occurrence in the specialized text with frequency in a large more general corpus. This worked well, but failed to identify words like neck, chest, skin which were also in common usage. It also could not separate collocates of technical words (superior, posterior, transverse) from technical words. If collocates are included the accuracy rate is close to 90%. Being able to reliably identify technical vocabulary provides an essential starting point for looking at how learners and teachers should deal with technical vocabulary. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.