Word meaning in academic English: homography in the Academic Word List

2020-06-25T01:45:32Z (GMT) by Paul Nation K Wang
The Academic Word List (Coxhead 2000) consists of 570 word families that are frequent and wide ranging in academic texts. It was created by counting the frequency, range, and evenness of spread of word forms in a specially constructed academic corpus. This study examines the words in the Academic Word List (AWL) to see if the existence of unrelated meanings for the same word form (homographs) has resulted in the inclusion of words in the list which would not be there if their clearly different meanings were distinguished. The study shows that only a small proportion of the word families contain homographs, and in almost all cases, one of the members of a pair or group of homographs is much more frequent and widely used than the others. Only three word families (intelligence, offset, and panel) drop out of the list because none of their homographs separately meet the criteria for inclusion in the list. A list of homographs in the AWL is provided, with frequencies for those where each of the members of a homograph pair are reasonably frequent.