Observational and checklist measures of vocabulary composition: What do they mean?
Observational and checklist measures of vocabulary composition have both recently been used to look at the absolute proportion of nouns in children's early vocabularies. However, they have tended to generate rather different results. The present study is an attempt to investigate the relationship between such measures in a sample of 26 children between 1;1 and 2;1 at approximately 50 and 100 words. The results show that although observational and checklist measures are significantly correlated, there are also systematic quantitative differences between them which seem to reflect a combination of checklist, maternal-report and observational sampling biases. This suggests that, although both kinds of measure may represent good indices of differences in vocabulary size and composition across children and hence be useful as dependent variables in correlational research, neither may be ideal for estimating the absolute proportion of nouns in children's vocabularies. The implication is that questions which rely on information about the absolute proportion of particular kinds of words in children's vocabularies can only be properly addressed by detailed longitudinal studies in which an attempt is made to collect more comprehensive vocabulary records for individual children.
Publication typeJournal article