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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Lexical Categorization Variables for English and Mandarin Quantify Ambiguity in Object Naming


This study focuses on naming and rating ambiguously categorized objects to more accurately represent the real-life naming scenarios that language-users encounter. We examined 407 images of common object categories from a previous study collected in 2013 with monolingual undergraduate students in the United States and China. Of those images, we selected 150 that both (1) balanced the mean and range of naming variables between languages and (2) had low between-language correlations on the same variables. We elicited object names and typicality ratings for these 150 images from a more age-, education-, and geographically-diverse sample of English monolinguals across the US. Naming measures were significantly correlated between current and previous English samples, suggesting high consistency of these object categories within language, especially typicality ratings when conditioned on the object name typicality is not a strictly conceptual measure. Cross-language correlations were low, illustrating the unique categorization patterns between languages.

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