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Core Vocabulary Versus Fringe Vocabulary

Kristi Murphy, M.A.,CCC-SLP

March 8, 2010



What is the difference between "core vocabulary" and "fringe vocabulary" and how they are used on AAC devices?


Core vocabulary refers to the most commonly or frequently used words. Core vocabulary lists may differ slightly depending on the number of words included and the researcher developing the list; however, many core vocabulary lists include pronouns, helping verbs, prepositions, articles, and common verbs. Core vocabulary is more generic and can be used across a wide range of environments with a variety of communication partners.

Fringe vocabulary refers to vocabulary that is more specific to a topic, environment, or individual. Fringe vocabulary is not generic and will likely not be used across environments, but in a certain setting with certain communication partners (i.e. talking about the SuperBowl - including specific teams and players.) When looking at vocabulary layout on an AAC device, it is important to have the most frequently used vocabulary easily accessible (usually on the main/home page or no more than one layer deep) so that it can be utilized in an efficient manner. Fringe vocabulary that may not be used as often, can be programmed deeper into the device, as a user will not have to navigate to that page as often. Most AAC device manufacturers have developed language/vocabulary systems specifically for their devices. Many of these vocabulary systems offer easily accessible core vocabulary on a main page with an organized system of fringe vocabulary layered below. When considering a device, do your research and look at all the vocabulary systems in order to determine which system is best for you/your client.

This Ask the Expert was taken from the course entitled: An Overview of High-Tech AAC Options, Computer Adaptations, and Practical Strategies for Using them in the Classroom

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Kristi Murphy received her Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Miami University in Oxford, OH. She completed her Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Akron. She has taught the augmentative communication course at Miami University and has been a support group facilitator for the local Cincinnati ALS support group for seven years.

kristi murphy

Kristi Murphy, M.A.,CCC-SLP

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