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The aim of this study was to develop a core vocabulary list for toddlers. Naturally occurring ( i.e. , unprompted) vocabulary was collected for 50 toddlers, aged from 24 to 36 months, enrolled in five different preschools, during two different activities (play within interest centres and snack time). Results revealed that all 50 children used nine common words across both routines, and that the list contained pronouns, verbs, prepositions and demonstratives. Words representing different pragmatic functions ( e.g. , requesting, affirming, negating) were also included. Nouns were absent from the list. These data are consistent with similar studies into the core vocabularies of adults, adolescents, and preschoolers.
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Core Vocabulary Determination for Toddlers
School of Allied Health Professions, Louisiana State University, Medical Center, 1100 Florida Avenue,
New Orleans, LA 70119-2799, USA
The aim of this study was to develop a core vocabulary list for toddlers. Naturally occurring
(i.e., unprompted) vocabulary was collected for 50 toddlers, aged from 24 to 36 months,
enrolled in five different preschools, during two different activities (play within interest
centres and snack time). Results revealed that all 50 children used nine common words across
both routines, and that the list contained pronouns, verbs, prepositions and demonstratives.
Words representing different pragmatic functions (e.g., requesting, affirming, negating) were
also included. Nouns were absent from the list. These data are consistent with similar studies
into the core vocabularies of adults, adolescents, and preschoolers.
Keywords: Core; Fringe; Vocabulary; Toddlers
Increasingly, Augmentative and Alternative
Communication (AAC) devices are being used
with toddlers (children between the ages of 24
months and 36 months) who exhibit expressive
communication delays. Several factors have
contributed to this trend in the USA, including
(a) full implementation of Part C of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA, 1997)
which includes policies, proce-
dures, and funding for assistive technology for
children birth to 3 years of age with special needs;
(b) recent advances in technology that have made
AAC devices easier to use, more accessible, and
lower in cost; and (c) wide ranging acceptance of
recommendations from AAC researchers and
practitioners (e.g., Kangas & Lloyd, 1988) to
begin implementing AAC strategies with infants
(0 – 24 months) and toddlers (24 – 36 months)
with communication delays before they attain
certain prerequisite cognitive skills.
The increased use of AAC with young children
creates several challenges for the field, in
particular, the identification of suitable vocabul-
aries when devising age-appropriate AAC
systems. Some older children and adults may be
able to generate their own messages by using the
alphabet to spell, for example; however, pre-
literate toddlers are unable to generate their own
unique messages using letter-by-letter spelling.
For these toddlers, significant adults typically
select and program vocabularies on AAC devices
using an appropriate representation system (e.g.,
pictures, icons, or photographs).
According to previous research (Beukelman,
McGinnis, & Morrow, 1991; Blackstone, 1988;
Morrow, Beukelman, & Mirenda, 1989), there are
three main approaches to selecting vocabulary for
children: developmental, environmental, and
functional. A developmental approach involves
the use of developmental vocabulary lists (Fristoe
& Lloyd, 1980; Holland, 1975; Lahey & Bloom,
1977; Reichle, Williams, & Ryan, 1981), that are
comprised of words chosen from developmental
language inventories that have been developed on
the basis of language acquisition principles.
Knowledge of the development of different word
forms (e.g., nouns, verbs) and the number of
words that children typically use at a certain age
or developmental level is used to determine
vocabulary for AAC systems. An environmental
approach (Beukelman & Garrett, 1988; Blau,
1983; Carlson, 1984; Fried-Oken & More, 1992;
Karlan & Lloyd, 1983; Mirenda, 1985) follows an
ecological inventory process, in which words
appropriate for specific communication environ-
ments (i.e., fringe vocabulary) are identified and
programmed on AAC devices. According to
Yorkston, Dowden, Honsinger, Marriner, and
Smith (1988) fringe vocabulary is specific to each
communication environment (e.g., marker, paper,
and crayon for an art activity; cookie, drink, and
spoon for a snack activity). The third approach,
functional communication, interfaces with the
pragmatic aspect of language. Vocabularies are
*Corresponding author. Tel.: (504) 942-8200. Fax: (504) 942-8253. E-mail:
Augmentative and Alternative Communication, June 2003 VOL. 19 (2), pp. 67–73
ISSN 0743-4618 print/ISSN 1477-3848 online #2003 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/0743461031000112034
chosen based on expressed communication func-
tions such as requesting, commenting, greeting,
and protesting.
Identification of core vocabularies for toddlers
involves aspects of all three approaches to
vocabulary selection. A core vocabulary consists
of words common to the vocabularies of peers
who are similar in age (Yorkston et al., 1988).
Vocabulary lists are based on the language
inventories of typically developing toddlers and
include the number of words and different word
forms that children between the ages of 24 and 36
months typically use. Core vocabularies are small
in size and do not change across environments or
between individuals. Common words used across
all communication environments comprise core
vocabulary lists, which include structure words
(e.g., want, more) that provide a framework for
functional language use.
Both core and fringe vocabularies are impor-
tant for communication purposes; however,
children appear to use core vocabulary more
frequently than fringe vocabulary (Beukelman,
Jones, & Rowan, 1989). In a study of the
frequency of word usage by six preschoolers,
Beukelman et al. (1989) analyzed language
samples for common or core words. They found
that the 25 most frequently occurring words
accounted for 45.1% of the sample collected.
Fifty of the most frequently occurring words
represented 50% of the sample, and 85% of the
sample included 250 of the most frequently used
words. Some examples of these frequently occur-
ring words included want, eat, and go – verbs,
demonstratives, propositions, and adverbs.
Nouns were not among the common or core
words most frequently used by preschoolers
within the study sample.
Despite evidence that nouns are not among
core vocabulary used by preschoolers, Adamson,
Romski, Deffenbach, and Sevcik (1992) reported
that clinicians typically select nouns representing
foods and objects as first symbols when designing
AAC systems. According to Adamson et al.
(1974) clinicians reported that nouns are chosen
because they are considered to be easiest to teach
and assess and are of considerable functional use
to the communicator. In addition, the clinicians
often omitted other words (e.g., want, more, help)
that regulate interaction from augmentative
communication systems and are harder to teach
and represent on communication systems. When
Adamson et al. (1974) added these action words
(in addition to the nouns) to communication
boards used by young males with moderate to
severe intellectual disabilities, the frequency with
which they used these boards increased from 2 to
41%. The Adamson et al. (1974) study is one of
several recent studies that have demonstrated that
combining core and fringe vocabulary words
increases the frequency of AAC use (e.g., Beukel-
man et al., 1991; Yorkston, Dowden, Honsinger,
Marriner, & Smith, 1989).
Researchers have attempted to identify lists of
words that could be included in a core vocabulary
for a variety of people who use AAC, including
adults (Balandin & Iacono, 1998); adolescents
(Adamson et al., 1992); and preschoolers (Beukel-
man et al., 1989; Fried-Oken & More, 1992). Of
these studies, Beukelman et al. (1989) is the most
relevant to the identification of a core vocabulary
for use by toddlers, given its focus on the
vocabularies of preschool children. Beukelman
and his colleagues audio-recorded and tran-
scribed the spoken communication samples of
six nondisabled preschool children (3 years 10
months to 4 years 9 months) in three different
classrooms. Three of the participants were male
and three were female. Teachers nominated these
children for participation in the study because
they were ‘active verbal participants in the
preschool program’ (p. 244).
Conversational samples collected by incon-
spicuously audio-recording the target children in
the classroom across six sessions were analyzed
for vocabulary commonality. A commonality
score of 6 indicated that all six participants
produced the targeted word, whereas a score of
1 indicated that only one participant produced
the word. Twenty-five words were identified as
the most frequently occurring words (i.e., words
that obtained a commonality score of 6). These
words were mainly verbs, prepositions, pronouns,
demonstratives, and articles. They also repre-
sented different semantic functions, including
affirmation, negation, nomination (or labeling),
and interrogation. Pragmatic functions repre-
sented included recurrence, termination, request-
ing actions, and establishing and maintaining
joint attention. No nouns were noted in this list of
25 words.
Published studies that identify core vocabul-
aries for toddlers could not be found in AAC or
related literature. Accordingly, the Beukelman et
al. (1989) study served as a foundation for the
present study, whose purpose was to begin the
process of identifying a core vocabulary for
toddlers by collecting language samples (during
play activities and functional classroom routines)
from speaking toddlers and analyzing these
samples for common words. For the purposes of
this study, a core vocabulary list was defined as a
list of words used by toddlers across all activities
during both play within interest centers and snack
time activities. The specific research questions for
the study were: (a) Does the vocabulary used by
68 M. BANAJEE et al.
toddlers differ across different activities? (b) Are
common words used by toddlers across different
activities? (c) What are the common words used
by toddlers across different activities? and (d)
What kind of syntactic, and pragmatic and
semantic functions do these common words
Fifty toddlers between the ages of 24 and 36
months served as participants in the study; 34
were girls and 16 were boys. The participants
were recruited from five daycare centres/nursery
schools in different socioeconomic areas (urban
and suburban regions) within a large metropoli-
tan area. In addition to meeting the criteria of age
and enrolment in the selected child care centres,
parent consent was obtained for each of the
children who participated.
All of the participants were screened using the
Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ), a parent-
completed child-monitoring system (Bricker &
Squires, 1999). The ASQ indicated that partici-
pants were functioning at age-appropriate devel-
opmental levels, used a variety of two to three
word utterances, spontaneously initiated interac-
tion, maintained interaction by taking turns,
terminated interaction appropriately, and consis-
tently followed simple one-step directives and
some two-step directives without gestures.
Participants were enrolled in nursery schools and
day care programs located within inner city and
suburban areas. All programs shared common
features: (a) the classroom schedule included at
least one free play and one snack time activity
during the day; (b) care and education were
provided by at least one teacher and one teacher
assistant; (c) classroom environments were orga-
nized by interest centers (e.g., blocks, dramatic
play, art); (d) the classroom schedule provided for
both small group and large group activities; and
(e) some activities were led by an adult (e.g.,
snack time) whereas others were child-directed
(e.g., center time).
Although materials across each of the class-
rooms differed, each of the classrooms had some
common materials. As an example, the block
centers contained a variety of different blocks
(e.g., Legos
, cardboard blocks) and building
materials (e.g., pop beads). Materials in the
dramatic play centers included dress up materials
(e.g., sunglasses, beads, shoes) and cooking
utensils (e.g., a stove, pots, and pans). The art
centers included materials such as paper, crayons
and markers, whereas the manipulative area
contained different cause-and-effect toys. Each
of the classrooms also included areas for reading
Across all of the classrooms, snack time
activities took place at designated tables. After
the children had washed their hands, they were
asked to sit at the snack table where they were
served by a teacher or assistant. They were given a
choice of juice or milk to drink, but they were not
given a choice of snack items; however, the
children could request more snack or drink. When
finished, the children were required to clean their
area and place trash items in a garbage can.
During snack time, the children were restricted to
the snack table; however, during free play
activities they were free to move from interest
center to interest center. Teachers and teaching
assistants interacted with the children during both
snack time and play within interest centers.
Three voice-activated tape recorders with lapel
microphones (Radio Shack
Optimus CTR-
115) were used to record the language samples.
Voice-activated tape recorders helped to record
words spoken by the target toddler only. Adult
and peer speech was too distant for the recorder
to be activated. The toddlers wore the tape
recorders at the waist in a small bag. A lapel
microphone was plugged into the tape recorder
and clipped to the collar of the toddler. High
quality microphones were used, in order to
compensate for difficulties in understanding
tape-recorded toddler speech; this provided a
clear recording of the speech used by the toddlers.
Data collection
Data were collected using the procedure outlined
in Beukelman et al. (1989). This procedure
involved audiotaping interactions among the
target children, the classroom staff, and other
classroom children during two different categories
of activities on three separate days. One category
of activities included child-directed play across
five different classroom interest centers (e.g.,
blocks, dramatic play). The second category
involved an adult-directed activity, snack time.
Each activity lasted for approximately 20 min.
During free play, children were allowed to play
freely within any of the interest centers. Audio-
tapes were reviewed for the first 150 utterances
within interest centers and snack time activities
across all three days. These 150 utterances
included the first 25 words used by each child
across the two activities on each of the 3 days.
Data were collected after the children had
become accustomed to wearing the microphones
and tape recorders. After the first 2 – 3 days, most
children (and some of their peers not included in
the study) asked to wear the tape recorders and
would talk about them with adults in the centers.
It took an average of 2 weeks across the five
daycare centers/nursery schools for the children
to wear the apparatus and resume their typical
play behaviors without distractions from the
recorders. Data were not collected during this
phase of the study.
Data analysis
The language samples recorded during both
categories of activities on all 3 days from all 50
children were analyzed. Three students enrolled in
a communication disorders Master’s level
program were trained by the first author to
develop a written, verbatim transcription of all
of the language samples. During the transcription
process, audiotapes were stopped after each
utterance and a verbatim transcription was
completed of the utterance. Unintelligible utter-
ances were omitted from the transcription. If
intelligibility problems were identified during any
point in the day, the entire day’s recording was
omitted and was not used for transcription.
Analyses were conducted to examine common-
ality among the words across activities and
children (as outlined by Beukelman et al., 1989).
Each new word was given a score of 1. If the same
child used a particular word in both activities, the
word was given a score of 2. A word used in both
activities on all 3 days was given a score of 6. In
addition, words with the same commonality score
were ranked according to frequency of use, which
was defined as the percentage of the number of
times each word was used in the language sample.
Using the method outlined by Miller (1989), type-
token ratios (number of different words divided
by the total number of words for each activity)
were calculated for all 50 children per activity for
each day. Average type-token ratio scores were
also reported for all 50 children per activity across
all 3 days. These ratios were compared with type-
token ratios of 3 year old children as reported by
Miller (1989).
Interrater reliability
Reliability was calculated on 20% of all word lists
across both activities (free play and snack time).
The first author conducted reliability checks
across language samples collected from one center
activity and one snack time activity of at least 10
of the children. Reliability scores were obtained
by dividing the number of agreements between
each student and the first author by the total
number of agreements and disagreements multi-
plied by 100. Mean reliability for sample
transcription, across all students, was 91%
(range = 86 – 95%). Mean reliability for the first
student was 89% (range = 86 – 92%), for the
second student it was 91% (range = 89 – 93%),
and for the third student it was 93%
(range = 91 – 95%).
Table 1 shows the list of words that achieved a
commonality score of 6 (nine words), 5, and 4.
TABLE 1 Words with commonality scores of 6, 5, and 4 and their frequency of use
Commonality Score
Words Frequency Words Frequency Words Frequency
I 9.5 mine 5.8 a 4.6
no 8.5 the 5.2 go 4.2
yes/yeah 7.6 is 4.9 what 3.1
want 5.0 on 2.8 some 2.3
It 4.9 in 2.7 help 2.1
that 4.9 here 2.7 All done/ finished 1.0
my 3.8 out 2.4
you 3.2 off 2.3
more 2.6
Note: Frequency is presented as a percentage.
70 M. BANAJEE et al.
The frequency of use of these words was
converted into a percentage score by dividing
the total number of words and multiplying by
100. As is evident from Table 1, eight common
words were used by most of the toddlers across
most of the settings, and six common words were
used by some of the children across some of the
Table 2 presents type-token ratios for each
activity on each day, as well as average scores of
each activity across all 3 days. These type-token
ratios were compared with those developed for
this age group (Miller, 1989) and were found to be
age appropriate. Ratios obtained during snack
time activity were lower than those obtained
during free play activities because of the limited
number of choices provided during this adult-led
The data were analyzed for syntax, semantic,
and pragmatic functions using the procedures
developed by Miller (1989) for analyzing free-
speech samples. The core vocabulary was found
to serve different syntactic, semantic, and prag-
matic functions. Core vocabulary words
contained demonstratives (that), verbs (want),
pronouns (my), prepositions (on), and articles
(the). No nouns were found in this list. Semantic
functions included use of agents (I), objects (you),
labeling objects (that) and actions (go), possession
(my), affirmation (yes), negation (no), location
(in), interrogation (what), quantity (some), and
termination (finished). Pragmatic functions
expressed included initiating interaction by
attracting attention (you), maintaining joint
attention (this), indicating recurrence (more),
and terminating interaction (finished).
Vocabulary selection is a difficult process when
designing age-appropriate AAC systems for
young children who do not speak. This is
especially true for children who are still preliterate
and, therefore, are unable to express their needs
and wants using traditional orthography (i.e.,
either selection of whole words or individual
letters to spell words). The literature review
indicated that some core words are used across
different activities of older children (Beukelman et
al., 1989), adolescents (Adamson et al., 1992), and
adults (Balandin & Iacono 1998), but information
was not available for toddlers. In the present
study, we examined vocabulary words used by 50
toddlers, in an attempt to redress this gap in the
The results of this study revealed that nine
common words were used across child-directed
free play and adult-directed activities within
nursery school and day programs. A further
analysis of the language sample revealed the use
of words to express different parts of syntactic,
semantic, and pragmatic functions. A lack of
nouns was noted in the common words used
across different activities. This finding seems
logical because activities in a typical classroom
contain different materials and toys. Further-
more, this finding reflects those obtained by
Beukelman et al. (1988), whose vocabulary lists
similarly contained very few if any nouns. The
addition of words from other syntax classes (e.g.,
verbs, demonstratives, and pronouns) helped to
increase frequency of use of the communication
systems (e.g., Beukelman et al., 1991; Yorkston et
al., 1989).
In the present study, the types of words in the
core vocabulary appear to be similar in syntax,
semantic, and pragmatic functions to those
identified by previous investigators of core
vocabulary for preschoolers (Fried-Oken &
More, 1992), adolescents (Adamson et al.,
1994), and adults (Balandin & Iacono, 1998).
The nine core words identified by this research
project were all included in the 25 most frequently
used words identified by Beukelman et al. (1989).
The similarities to past research help strengthen
the premise that a common core vocabulary can
be applied across activities and environments.
Clinical Implications
The results from the present study indicate the
need to include words that enable young children
to meet a variety of syntactic, semantic, and
pragmatic functions on their communication
devices. Some words that meet these needs might
be difficult to graphically represent, which may
result in their being omitted from the initial
overlays developed for communication systems.
Use of words that are difficult to represent
graphically may be taught to young children by
modeling the use of the words within activities. In
addition, consistently pairing the picture or
symbol (e.g., the Picture Communication Symbol
for ‘want’) with the word programmed on the
device should help to teach a child to use the same
symbol to request objects.
TABLE 2 Average type-token ratios across participants
per activity for each day
Activity Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Snack time 0.41 0.42 0.41 0.4133
Free time 0.44 0.43 0.44 0.4433
Words that were less frequently used by the
toddlers were also identified (Table 1). The words
from these lists included an extended core group
of words to draw from for vocabulary selection
for communication overlays to be used on voice
output communication devices. Thus, if a toddler
was able to use more than nine words, the word
lists with commonality scores of 5 and 4 (Table 1)
were used. These words also were found within
the 50 most frequently used words as identified by
Beukelman et al. (1989).
Research Implications
Although the results of the present study appear
to be promising, they should be interpreted with
caution because of certain limitations. First, the
size of the sample was small (i.e., 50 toddlers);
second, the sample used was a convenient one
(i.e., language samples were collected from
daycare or nursery centers with which the authors
had previous relationships); and third, the sample
involved more girls than boys, and the partici-
pants were predominantly Caucasian, which
means that the core vocabulary of the sample
may not be representative of the core vocabulary
used by children of different ethnic, cultural, or
socioeconomic backgrounds.
In addition, because the vocabulary was collected
across activities in daycare/nursery school settings,
it may not be representative of core vocabularies
used by children across different environments
(e.g., home, playgrounds, and grocery stores).
Marvin, Beukelman, Brockhaus, and Kast (1994),
found that children use different topics in the
preschool setting than at home, and argued that this
probably resulted from being exposed to different
toys, people, and routines (e.g., circle time in school
versus bath time at home). However, some overlap
of vocabulary across the two environments would
be expected as a result of similarities between
routines (e.g., meal times or toy play). Routines in
homes (e.g., dressing, bathing) may include
different materials and interactions that could
create the need to use different vocabulary words
than those used during routines in daycare centers.
Children who play on playground equipment that
requires them to use gross motor movements and
activities may need to use different words while
interacting with their peers and other adults than
they would during indoor activities, such as those
utilized in this study. Accordingly, just has been the
case for topics (Marvin et al., 1994), there is a need
to investigate vocabularies across many types of
environments, in order to ensure the validity of a
given core vocabulary.
In addition, words identified as core vocabulary
for toddlers who are not disabled may or may not
be appropriate for use by toddlers with expressive
communication delays. The core vocabulary list
identified in the present study needs to be used
with children who rely on AAC because they
either experience communication delays or are
unable to use speech, in order to determine how
useful the vocabulary is for them across different
Another potential limitation of the present
study is that only the first 25 words expressed
by each child per day per activity were used in the
analyses. These did, however, combine into a
corpus of 150 words in total for use in the
analyses. Typically, the middle 25 words are
included in a language sample (Miller, 1989);
however, this procedure was not used because
some language samples did not have sufficient
content. Some children, for example, produced
only approximately 25 words within the 20 min
activity. Although type-token ratios (calculated
for all 50 children per activity for each day) were
found to be age appropriate when compared to
those reported by Miller (1989), further investiga-
tion using larger vocabulary samples may be
Further research is needed to investigate the
effectiveness of integrating core vocabulary words
with fringe vocabulary words on communication
devices. Researchers (Fristoe & Lloyd, 1988;
Holland, 1975; Lahey, 1977) have suggested that
core words and fringe vocabulary words be
included in the first lexical words selected for
language intervention. Additionally, researchers
and practitioners have recommended that fringe
words appropriate for different activities be used
together with core words in order to develop a
rounded communication system that could be
used across various activities and daily routines
(e.g., Beukelman et al., 1991; Yorkston et al.,
1989). Systematic investigations with toddlers are
needed to determine the utility of AAC devices
programmed with core words only, fringe
vocabulary words only, and core and fringe
words integrated within the system or stored
separately in the system in a way that may be easy
to retrieve and recall (e.g., in a different area for
each child or page). Future studies are also
needed to evaluate the utility of the core
vocabulary identified in this study on commu-
nication devices used by a variety of toddlers
across a variety of activities.
1 Part C of the IDEA provides funding for the provision of
developmental services such as special instruction,
speech, and occupational and physical therapy to
children with disabilities
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... Moreover, lengthy and labor-intensive transcription procedures likely explain the compromise between number of participants and sampling duration required in study designs. For example, Banajee et al. (2003) analyzed word usage for a sample of 50 typically-developing English-speaking children aged 24-36 months. Analysis drew on the first 150 utterances produced during two daily activities in nursery and daycare settings over three days. ...
... In a narrative review of research literature in the field, Laubscher and Light (2020) flagged the considerable variation across published word lists, attributing this to differences across studies in methods, contexts of sampling and criteria for defining words. Beyond these differences, function words are consistently prominent in core word lists, with nouns featuring rarely (see Beukelman et al., 1989;Banajee et al., 2003;Trembath et al., 2007). More recently, Frick Semmler et al. (2023) examined seven published core vocabulary lists, five of which also featured in Laubscher and Light's (2020) review. ...
... The number of times a word occurs in sample data collected from different individuals may be referred to as 'composite frequency' (e.g., Trembath et al., 2007). Commonality, defined as the number of participants using a particular word during sampling (e.g., Banajee et al., 2003), is akin to word frequencies derived from checklist data. Further, the frequency of production of individual words generated by sampled vocabulary data cannot be gleaned from completed checklists. ...
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Background Although parental checklists are well-known for their potential in indexing young children’s lexicon size, they can also be used to track children’s acquisition of individual words. Word-level data can be used to identify the checklist words most and least commonly employed across groups of children. Like parent-completed vocabulary checklists, samples of spontaneous language use collected from multiple children can also generate measures of word commonality, concerned with the numbers of children producing individual words. To our knowledge, comparisons of word usage as determined by parental checklist and language sample data obtained in parallel from the same children have not been carried out. Also scarce in the empirical literature are item-level analyses of early bilingual lexicons that explore word usage across two emerging languages. The present study aimed to contribute toward bridging both gaps through the analysis of data generated by a bilingual Maltese-English adaptation of the vocabulary checklist of the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories: Words and Sentences (CDI: WS) and spontaneous language samples for the same children. An additional objective was to derive implications for revising the current version of the vocabulary checklist, in preparation for its eventual standardization. Materials and methods For 44 Maltese children aged 12, 18, 24, and 30 months, the words reported by their main caregivers on the vocabulary checklist were identified, along with their respective semantic categories. For the same children, 20-min language samples obtained during free play with the caregiver were transcribed orthographically. Words identified through parental report and language sampling were analyzed for commonality, i.e., the number of children producing each word. Results Comparison of the word usage patterns obtained through both methods indicated differences in the words most commonly sampled and those most commonly reported, particularly in relation to grammatical categories. Notwithstanding these differences, positive and significant correlations emerged when considering all grammatical categories and languages across commonality levels. Discussion The commonality scores based on parental checklist data have implications for reconsidering the length and language balance of the Maltese-English adaptation of the CDI: WS vocabulary checklist. Sampled word usage patterns can contribute additional objectivity in updating the reporting instrument in preparation for its eventual standardization.
... Moreover, they only focussed on a small subset of commonly used core vocabulary lists. The core vocabulary lists developed between now and the 1980s have been compiled from child-directed speech by mothers talking to their children with typical language development between 9 and 15 months , preschoolers with typical language development (Banajee et al., 2003;Beukelman et al., 1989;Fried-Oken & More, 1992), written and spoken words (Dennis et al., 2013), children with English as a second language (Boenisch & Soto, 2015), as well as typically developing adolescents (Adamson et al., 1992) and adults (Balandin & Iacono, 1999). Many of the lists were compiled through aggregate language samplings across environments (Banajee et al., 2003;Beukelman et al., 1989;Fried-Oken & More, 1992;Marvin et al., 1994;Quick et al., 2019;Trembath et al., 2007), with the exception of one list that was compiled through analyses of several lists (i.e. ...
... The core vocabulary lists developed between now and the 1980s have been compiled from child-directed speech by mothers talking to their children with typical language development between 9 and 15 months , preschoolers with typical language development (Banajee et al., 2003;Beukelman et al., 1989;Fried-Oken & More, 1992), written and spoken words (Dennis et al., 2013), children with English as a second language (Boenisch & Soto, 2015), as well as typically developing adolescents (Adamson et al., 1992) and adults (Balandin & Iacono, 1999). Many of the lists were compiled through aggregate language samplings across environments (Banajee et al., 2003;Beukelman et al., 1989;Fried-Oken & More, 1992;Marvin et al., 1994;Quick et al., 2019;Trembath et al., 2007), with the exception of one list that was compiled through analyses of several lists (i.e. Erickson et al., 2019). ...
... The seven lists used in this study serve as a sample of core vocabulary lists, which explicitly state that they are to be used with early symbolic communicators who use AAC. The following core vocabulary lists were identified through a search of the literature regarding core vocabulary for early language learners: Project Core's vocabulary list (Erikson et al., 2019), a core vocabulary list compiled by Banajee et al. (2003), and a core vocabulary list compiled by Quick et al. (2019). The remaining four lists, along with the Banajee list, were included in Laubscher and Light's study (2020) which looked at ranked lists of core vocabulary words. ...
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Purpose Core vocabulary lists are frequently used to select vocabulary for early symbolic communicators who require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The current study extended existing work by investigating how core vocabulary lists overlap and diverge from typical language development. Method We investigated when the words on seven core vocabulary lists emerge in typical language development, the composition of the lists based on their parts of speech, and how the composition of the words on the lists compare to the MacArthur Bates Communication Development Inventories (CDI). Result On average, the words on the seven core vocabulary lists appear after the second year of life in children with typical spoken language development (25, 27, 37, 45, 47, 50, and 66 months). Verbs were the most prevalent part of speech in all but one of the core vocabulary lists. Core vocabulary words made up only a small percentage of words on the CDI. Conclusion The words on the core vocabulary lists do not emerge until later points in typical lexical development. Focussing on core words when working with early symbolic communicators who require AAC may lead to limited and variable lexicons with wide gaps.
... A minimum of 80% reliability on the transcriptions was reached for at least three of the segmented audio-recorded speech samples (Guralnick & Paul-Brown, 1989;Kazdin, 1982). Reliability was obtained by dividing the number of agreements between the undergraduate student and first author by the total number of agreements and disagreements multiplied by 100 (Banajee et al., 2003). ...
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This study explored the effect of mutual familiarity of interlocutors on quantitative contributions of conversation turns in dyadic conversation among Mandarin Chinese-speaking older adults. A quantitative quasi-experimental study was conducted. A total of 42 healthy older adults aged 65 years or over were recruited. Percentages of contributed conversation turns for each interlocutor were computed as frequency of interlocutor conversation turns divided by total frequency of dyad conversation turns multiplied by 100. Quantitative asymmetries were differences of percentages of contributed conversation turns. A total of 60 ten-minute dyadic conversation sessions were conducted, including 30 mutually familiar-older-adult sessions (FOAS) and 30 mutually unfamiliar-older-adult sessions (UOAS). Quantitatively asymmetrical contributions of conversation turns occurred in both FOAS and UOAS, and quantitative contributions of conversation turns in FOAS were significantly more asymmetrical than those in UOAS. There were three limitations to the current study, including limited representations of everyday conversation contexts (e.g., at home); no consideration of the types of conversation modes; and no consideration of sensitivity to conversation as one of the inclusion criteria for research participants. Quantitatively asymmetrical contributions of conversation turns occurred in both mutually FOAS and UOAS dyads among Mandarin Chinese-speaking older adults. Moreover, quantitative contributions of conversation turns in mutually FOAS dyads were significantly more asymmetrical than those in mutually UOAS dyads. Sufficient knowledge of changes in conversation turns in dyadic conversation among healthy older adults might reduce misperceptions of older adults suffering from neurological disease.
... The most frequently used words of a language are also known as 'core vocabulary' (see Baker et al. 2000;Beukelman et al. 1989;Balandin & Iacono, 1999;Banajee et al. 2003;Trembath et al. 2007). Core vocabulary refers to the approximately 200 most frequently used words of a language. ...
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English translation of Boenisch, Jens and Sachse, Stefanie Kalen (2019). Kernvokabular – Bedeutung für den Sprachgebrauch
... Developing NLP tasks requires the availability of data that matches the domain, whether for training, for testing, or to understand the domain. AAC researchers often use a core vocabulary list (Balandin & Iacono, 1999;Banajee et al., 2003;Marvin et al., 1994). These lists are words that are frequent, used in many contexts, and cover the basic needs for communication Beukelman and Mirenda (2013) and Fallon et al. (2001). ...
Pictographic symbols may be used as an alternative form of communication by individuals with complex communication needs. These symbols are a collocation of drawings that depict concepts often associated with glosses that express the meaning in spoken language. This research investigates the problem by focusing on one particular language, Modern Standard Arabic, and one set of symbols, the ARASAAC set. The outcomes are generalisable to other symbols sets and spoken languages. Symbols can be used as part of an electronic speech generating devices. Users may use symbols to express messages or to understand received messages. Thus, translating to and from text is an important task that increases communication with a wider community. Translating text to symbols requires awareness of the exact sense of the textual units that are part of the input message, to determine relevant symbols. Translating from symbol to text, on the other hand, requires in addition to associated glosses, an awareness of the grammar, and word sequence likelihoods, to be able generate fully-formed sentences. Machine translation has often been tackled by using methods that require large amounts of data. This data needs to match the domain and cover the same source and target registers that are expected by a translation system. However, a parallel corpus of pictographic symbols and MSA is currently unavailable. This research addresses this issue by proposing an approach that creates the training data needed by making use of existing multilingual textual resources to resolve ambiguity. The outcome was a corpus that had been automatically tagged with morphological annotations and pictographic symbols, the approach followed, and an investigation of the data involved and produced. The availability of this symbol tagged corpus is a step towards Arabic symbol/text translation. This has the potential to enhance communication for those requiring Arabic speech output from symbol messaging, and provide a better understanding of the complexities of automated symbol/text translation processes in Arabic.
Purpose Childhood spoken language interventions and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) interventions share a common purpose: maximizing communication and language outcomes. To ensure that interventions for children who require AAC also address expressive language acquisition, this clinical focus article focuses on how to apply a developmental model of language acquisition to guide AAC decision making for preliterate aided communicators, with a particular focus on vocabulary selection. Method A brief review of early expressive language development is presented, along with arguments for why relying on a developmental model to guide AAC decision making is so critical. A series of detailed examples of how to apply a developmental model to various AAC vocabulary selection approaches are provided, including analyses of how well each approach aligns with pragmatic, semantic, grammatical, and narrative development. Conclusions No single AAC approach for preliterate AAC language learners adequately addresses both immediate and longer-term expressive language needs; every approach has both strengths and weaknesses. Clinical decision making requires an analysis of each approach to ensure that AAC service delivery teams clearly understand the inevitable linguistic gaps, with plans put into place to fill in those gaps with different approaches. Future efforts to improve preliterate AAC service provision should use a developmental model of language as a starting point, in combination with input from families, educators, and clinicians to ensure the feasibility of the chosen approaches.
Core vocabulary lists and vocabulary inventories vary according to language. Lists from one language cannot and should not be assumed to be translatable, as words represent language-specific concepts and grammar. In this manuscript, we (a) present the results of a vocabulary overlap analysis between different published core vocabulary lists in English, Korean, Spanish, and Sepedi; (b) discuss the concept of universal semantic primes as a set of universal concepts that are posited to be language-independent; and (c) provide a list of common words shared across all four languages as exemplars of their semantic primes. The resulting common core words and their corresponding semantic primes can assist families and professionals in thinking about the initial steps in the development of AAC systems for their bilingual/multilingual clients.
Deaf children experience language deprivation at alarmingly high rates. One contributing factor is that most are born to non-signing hearing parents who face insurmountable barriers to learning a signed language. This Element presents a case for developing signed language curricula for hearing families with deaf children that are family-centered and focus on child-directed language. Core vocabulary, functional sentences, and facilitative language techniques centered around common daily routines allow families to apply what they learn immediately. Additionally, Deaf Community Cultural Wealth (DCCW) lessons build families' capacity to navigate the new terrain of raising a deaf child. If early intervention programs serving the families of young deaf children incorporate this type of curriculum into their service delivery, survey data suggest that it is both effective and approachable for this target population, so the rates of language deprivation may decline.
This study's goal was to inform the selection of the most frequently used words to serve as a reference for core vocabulary selection for Hebrew-speaking children who require AAC. The paper describes the vocabulary used by 12 Hebrew-speaking preschool children with typical development in two different conditions: peer talk, and peer talk with adult mediation. Language samples were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using the CHILDES (Child Language Data Exchange System) tools to identify the most frequently used words. The top 200 lexemes (all variations of a single word) in the peer talk and adult-mediated peer talk conditions accounted for 87.15% (n = 5008 tokens) and 86.4% (n = 5331 tokens) of the total tokens produced in each language sample (n = 5746, n = 6168), respectively. A substantially overlapping vocabulary of 337 lexemes accounted for up to 87% (n = 10411) of the tokens produced in the composite list (n = 11914). The results indicate that a relatively small set of words represent a large proportion of the words used by the preschoolers across two different conditions. General versus language-specific implications for core vocabulary selection for children in need of AAC devices are discussed.
The purpose of this study was to select a core vocabulary list obtained from Mandarin Chinese-speaking Taiwanese persons without disabilities. Mandarin Chinese is dominant and official language of Taiwan. A total of 28 participants, equally divided among seven age groups, were recruited for the study. In all, 112 samples across different communication contexts were collected. Results indicated that 100 core words selected had coverage of 66.7% of the entire composite sample. The proportion of function words versus content words in the top 100 core words was 11% and 89%, respectively. The core vocabulary was categorized into eight parts of speech, including nouns, pronouns, numbers, adverbs, determiners, prepositions, adjectives, and verbs. Implications, limitations, and further research are discussed.
Ten professionals (five speech pathologists, three rehabilitation counsellors, and two teachers) participated in a survey to investigate their ability to predict the topics and vocabulary of meal-break conversations at work. Participants selected two topics that they thought were likely to occur during meal-break conversations between nondisabled employees for each day of the week. They selected five key words appropriate to each chosen topic. The topics and key words were analyzed for frequency and commonality and compared to the topics and vocabulary from actual meal-break conversations in the workplace. The professionals accurately predicted some topics that occurred in the actual conversational sample. However, one-third of the key words (33%) predicted by the participants did not occur in the conversational sample. The implications of these findings for vocabulary selection for augmented communicators are discussed.
This article reviews literature describing guidelines for selecting 1) signing as an augmentative communication mode and 2) initial signs to teach severely handicapped learners. A review of the literature indicates that numerous guidelines are available, and although they appear to have face validity, few have received empirical scrutiny. Criteria are inconsistently applied across the literature. Each identified criterion pertinent to selecting initial signs is discussed, based on available theoretical positions and data. Recommendations are made for systematic evaluation of identified criteria.
Because nonspeaking preschool students cannot independently generate their own unique messages, the burden of vocabulary selection for their augmentative and alternative communication systems is the responsibility of adults. In order to identify a core list of vocabulary used in the preschool setting, the vocabulary use patterns of nondisabled peers in integrated preschool classrooms were studied. Language samples that ranged from 2 to 7 hours in length were recorded for six preschool children. These samples were then analyzed to determine frequency of word occurrence, number of total words, number of different words, and the consistency (commonality) with which individual words were produced by the six subjects.
Appropriate vocabulary selection is a critical aspect of the development of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) approaches. Many sources of vocabulary lists are found in the literature. The general purpose of this investigation is to compare and contrast a number of vocabulary lists in an effort to assess the usefulness of these lists as a source of vocabulary items for adolescent and adult AAC users. Results of a comparison of eleven standard vocabulary lists from various fields of investigation and nine user vocabulary lists from a group of nonspeaking adults indicated that all were small in comparison to the range of possible words and all contained relatively simple words. These vocabulary lists differed from one another in that the majority of words were unique to a single list and that there was not extensive overlap between various pairs of vocabulary lists. When standard vocabulary lists were compared with user lists, results indicated that nearly one-third of the words in user vocabulary lists were not found in even the largest of the standard vocabulary lists. Development of composite vocabulary lists based on carefully selected groups of AAC users is discussed as a future research need. These composite lists may serve as a source of “core” vocabulary for use in AAC systems.
Ten professionals (five speech pathologists, three rehabilitation counsellors, and two teachers) participated in a survey to investigate their ability to predict the topics and vocabulary of meal-break conversations at work. Participants selected two topics that they thought were likely to occur during meal-break conversations between nondisabled employees for each day of the week. They selected five key words appropriate to each chosen topic. The topics and key words were analyzed for frequency and commonality and compared to the topics and vocabulary from actual meal-break conversations in the workplace. The professionals accurately predicted some topics that occurred in the actual conversational sample. However, one-third of the key words (33%) predicted by the participants did not occur in the conversational sample. The implications of these findings for vocabulary selection for augmented communicators are discussed.
The purpose of this article is to review those factors influencing vocabulary selection and retention for persons who use augmentative and alternative communication systems. The vocabulary needs of literate individuals who are able to spell their messages are discussed separately from the needs of preliterate or nonliterate individuals who are unable to spell and must be supplied with extensive vocabularies to cover their communication requirements. Research regarding informants and informant tools in the vocabulary selection process is reviewed.
Pictorial communication systems are often overlooked for nonverbal, severely handicapped persons who are physically able-bodied, because of some misconceptions about their appropriateness and adaptability. This paper reviews some of the primary considerations in selecting appropriate pictorial systems for individual students. Potential problems related to communication book design and layout are presented, with suggestions for creating adaptations to circumvent these difficulties. Strategies related to vocabulary selection and instruction are also included.
In this article, the process of vocabulary selection is described for a nonreading, severely physically disabled adult for whom an initial expressive communication approach was being developed. The process included use of environmental inventories, communication diaries, and review of standard vocabulary lists as a means of message selection. A comparison of this user's vocabulary list with 11 standard vocabulary lists indicated that even the largest of these vocabulary lists do not contain all the words considered important by the user. Thus, review of standard vocabulary lists may be considered a necessary but not sufficient aspect of vocabulary selection.