A Study of Lexical Availability Among Monolingual-Bilingual Speakers of Spanish and English
Victery, John Bailey Jr.
Urrutibeheity, Hector N.
Master of Arts thesis
The purpose of this thesis has been to study vocabulary elicited from ten different areas of subject matter by means of limited time testing on mixed control-groups comprising ninety-nine students in the 16-17-18 year-old age range, of which 33 were monolinguals in Spanish (from Monterrey, Mexico), 33 were monolinguals in English (from Houston, Texas), and 33 were bilinguals (also from Houston). The history of such testing and its recent evolutions; important pre-testing discoveries; the manual and technological methods used in carrying out the actual testing; its rationale, and how vocabulary studies may be classified are important properties of the techniques and analyses of this study. The practical applications of lexical availability are seen in relation to what lexical availability is and how it may be measured. The testing was divided into distinct areas of subject matter and for each, the students gave, by means of a free association type response, words which they related directly or indirectly to one stimulus at a time. The participants were required to write down their responses as pretesting experimentation uncovered some severe disadvantages in using oraltype recording devices. Each stimulus was allowed two minutes. Lexical homogeneity to the highest degree possible was desirable; therefore, subject matters were selected on a basis of universality. The socioeconomic and sociocultural backgrounds of the Spanish speaking monolinguals was seen to be advantaged over that of the English speaking monolinguals and the bilinguals, based on the occupational statuses of their families and types of city districts wherein their homes are found. The analytical development of the results brought to light some surprising findings. The English speaking monolinguals ranked first in production of total lexical items (6,/140); the Spanish speaking bilinguals ranked second in total production (5,672); English speaking bilinguals ranked third (5,572) and Spanish speaking monolinguals totaled 4,696 items, ranking fourth. As to different items, Spanish speaking bilinguals produced 2,539, ranking first; English speaking monolinguals elicited 2,454, ranking second; English speaking bilinguals ranked third with 2,384 and Spanish speaking monolinguals yielded 1,904 different items, ranking fourth. Females consistently outranked the males in lexical production-by 11.59% in total items and 10.89% in different items. Of the 22,380 total items produced, girls elicited 13,404 to the males' production of 8,976 (weight-corrected figure: 10,145). That portion of the entire corpus which yielded items of 8 occurrences or more comprised 44.81%. Significant to the study of lexical availability is cognitive concomitance; that is, the degree of universal agreement to be found concurrent to the participating group. In the case of this study, the fact that 45% (rounded figure) of the lexical items were shared by and dispersed to such a substantial degree among all informants was confirmation of lexical homogeneity.