Chapter 3. Measuring lexical diversity among L2 learners of French

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In this study two new measures of lexical diversity are tested for the first time on French. The usefulness of these measures, MTLD (McCarthy and Jarvis (2010 and this volume) and HD-D (McCarthy and Jarvis 2007), in predicting different aspects of language proficiency is assessed and compared with D (Malvern and Richards 1997; Malvern, Richards, Chipere and Durán 2004) and Maas (1972) in analyses of stories told by two groups of learners (n = 41) of two different proficiency levels and one group of native speakers of French (n = 23). The importance of careful lemmatization in studies of lexical diversity which involve highly inflected languages is also demonstrated. The paper shows that the measures of lexical diversity under study are valid proxies for language ability in that they explain up to 62 percent of the variance in French C-test scores, and up to 33 percent of the variance in a measure of complexity. The paper also provides evidence that dependence on segment size continues to be a problem for the measures of lexical diversity discussed in this paper. The paper concludes that limiting the range of text lengths or even keeping text length constant is the safest option in analysing lexical diversity.


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