Academic lexical coverage in TED talks and academic lectures

Wingrove, Peter (2022). Academic lexical coverage in TED talks and academic lectures. English for Specific Purposes, 65 pp. 79–94.



The coverage of academic lexis is compared in a TED talk corpus (2,483 talks, 5,068,781 words) and a corpus of Yale University lectures (708 lectures, 5,523,791 words). Academic lexis is defined by the Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2000), the Academic Vocabulary List (Gardner & Davies, 2014), and the Academic Spoken Word List (Dang et al., 2017). In all cases Mann–Whitney U tests found lectures had significantly higher coverage, with small effect sizes for lexis. This difference was smaller for academic tagged TED talks (n = 1379). When like-for-like disciplines were compared, lectures typically had greater coverage than their TED talk counterparts. An analysis of the cumulative coverage of types demonstrated a lower representation of the less frequent academic types in TED talks. A combined ratio and minimum frequency measure identified academic types which distinguish the genres. Pedagogical implications are discussed.

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