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The Nature of Vocabulary in Academic Speech of Hard and Soft-sciences

  • 31/03/2022
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Little is known about the similarities and differences between the vocabulary in hard-sciences (e.G., Maths, engineering, medicine) and soft-sciences (e.G., Business, law, history), especially in spoken discourse. To address this gap, a soft science spoken word list (sswl) was developed for second language learners of soft-sciences at english-medium universities. The list consists of the 1,964 most frequent and wide-ranging word-families in a 6.5 Million word corpus of soft-science speech, which represents 12 subjects across two equally-sized sub-corpora. The list may allow learners to recognize 94%97% of the words in academic speech of soft-sciences. A comparison of the sswl with dang’s (2018) hard science spoken word list revealed that although the most frequent 3,000 words are important for comprehending academic speech of both soft- and hard-sciences, the value of these words in soft-sciences is greater than in hard-sciences. Pedagogical implications related to this nature of vocabulary in hard- and soft-science speech are provided. 2018 Elsevier ltd

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