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ERIC Number: EJ777923
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 30
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 69
ISSN: ISSN-0265-5322
"vocd": A Theoretical and Empirical Evaluation
McCarthy, Philip M.; Jarvis, Scott
Language Testing, v24 n4 p459-488 2007
A reliable index of lexical diversity (LD) has remained stubbornly elusive for over 60 years. Meanwhile, researchers in fields as varied as "stylistics," "neuropathology," "language acquisition," and even "forensics" continue to use flawed LD indices--often ignorant that their results are questionable and in some cases potentially dangerous. Recently, an LD measurement instrument known as "vocd" has become the virtual tool of the LD trade. In this paper, we report both theoretical and empirical evidence that calls into question the rationale for "vocd" and also indicates that its reliability is not optimal. Although our evidence shows that "vocd's" output (D) is a relatively robust indicator of the aggregate probabilities of word occurrences in a text, we show that these probabilities--and thus also D--are affected by text length. Malvern, Richards, Chipere and Duran (2004) acknowledge that D (as calculated by "vocd"'s default method) can be affected by text length, but claim that the effects are not significant for the ranges of text lengths with which they are concerned. In this paper, we explain why D is affected by text length, and demonstrate with an extensive empirical analysis that the effects of text length are significant over certain ranges, which we identify. (Contains 10 tables and 5 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Finland