Ling 177

Mental Lexicon Assignment

Due: September 13th

Calculate the size of your mental lexicon. Follow the procedures we discussed in class, but be sure to document the procedures you use and the assumptions you make. In your two-page write up, you should:

1. Name the dictionary you used and state how many entries it contains.

2. Describe what you counted as a word and divide the words that you count into at least two groups:

            a. root morphemes (words without affixes)

i. Did you count regular and irregular inflections for tense, aspect, person and possession?

                        ii. Did you count homonyms?

                        iii. How did you handle polysemy?

                        iv. Did you count exclamations?

            b. derived words (words with affixes)

i. Did you count productive and non-productive derivations?

                        ii. Did you count compounds?

iii. Did you count conversions, acronyms, abbreviations, blends, clippings, back formations, coinages, onomatopoeia?

3. State the number of pages in the dictionary that you used and describe the procedure you followed to select those pages.

4. Describe the procedure that you followed to estimate the number of words in the dictionary in each category.

5. Discuss the procedure that you used to recognize the words.

6. Present your results and discuss the factors that determine the accuracy of your count. How does your count underestimate or overestimate the number of words you recognize? What effect did the number of pages you used, or the categories have on your result? How would you correct these errors?

Your report should include the following sections:


1 point

I. Statement of the problem


5 points

II. Procedure


2 points

III. Results


2 points

IV. Discussion

Extra Credit

Compare your vocabulary count with an estimate generated by an online vocabulary test.

            1. What factors account for the difference between your estimate and the online test?

            2. How would you improve the online test?