Debriefing German-English Number-of-Translations Study

The purpose of this study is to collect normative data about the German language. We are interested in the number of possible translations words have from German to English and English to German. We will also examine the number and types of translations students at different proficiency levels produce. We expect that less proficient students will produce more translations for concrete objects than abstract/conceptual words. We also expect that students more proficient in German will produce more abstract/conceptual word translations than less proficient students. This normative data will be useful in further research on second language processing

Previous research using number of translations norms has been used for studying a phenomenon called translation ambiguity (Tokowicz & Kroll 2007). Translation ambiguity occurs when a word in one language can be translated into more than one word in another language. You may be familiar with this phenomenon in studying German: the English word “to know” can be translated into both “kennon” and “wissen” in German. Although both words do translate into “to know” in English they do not share the same meaning in German. Previous research has demonstrated that this kind of ambiguity makes learning and translating more difficult.

If you have questions or would like additional information you may contact Chelsea Eddington at or call 570-234-7155.

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References:Tokowicz, N. & Kroll, J. F. (2007). Number of meaning and concreteness: Consequences of ambiquity within and across languages. Language and Cognitive Processes, 22, 727-779.