Do We Need Discipline-Specific Academic Word Lists? Linguistics Academic Word List (LAWL)

Document Type: Research Paper


University of Kashan


This corpus-based study aimed at exploring the most frequently-used academic words in linguistics and compare the wordlist with the distribution of high frequency words in Coxhead’s Academic Word List (AWL) and West’s General Service List (GSL) to examine their coverage within the linguistics corpus. To this end, a corpus of 700 linguistics research articles (LRAC), consisting of approximately 4 million words from four main linguistics sub-disciplines (phonology, morphology, semantics and syntax) was compiled and analyzed based on two criteria; frequency and range. Based on the analysis, a list consisting of 1263 academic word families was produced to provide a useful linguistics academic word list for native and non- native English speakers. Results showed that AWL words account for 10.18 % of the entire LRAC, and GSL words account for 72.48% of the entire LRAC. The findings suggested that of 570 word families in Coxhead’s AWL, 381 (66.84%) word families correspond with the word selections criteria which provide 29.88% of the word families in Linguistics Academic Word List (LAWL). Furthermore, 224 word families that were frequently used in linguistic research article corpus (LRAC) were not listed in GSL and AWL. They accounted for 18.51% of the word families in LAWL with coverage of 5.07% over LRAC, and compared with the 2000 GSL, 658 word families were identified. The results have pedagogical implications for linguistics practitioners and EAP practitioners, researchers, and material designers.


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