What is Core Vocabulary?

“Core vocabulary” refers to the small set of basic words in any language that are used frequently and across contexts (Cross, Baker, Klotz and Badman, 2006). Core words tend to be pronouns, verbs, and demonstratives because they represent words that generally do not change. These words are relevant across contexts and can have many meanings.

Core vocabulary words allow communicators to express themselves using a wide variety of concepts with a very small number of words. Research shows that 80% of what we say is communicated with only the 200 most basic words in our language (Baker and Hill, 2000).

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