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Psycholinguistic variables

We used three databases of psycholinguistic correlates of words: age of acquisition, concreteness and word frequency. For age of acquisition, we used Kuperman et al.’s [KUP 12] age-of-acquisition ratings for 30,000 English words. For concreteness, we used Brysbaert et al’s. [BRY 14] database for 40,000 common English word lemmas. For frequency, we used the SUBTLEXus Corpus [BRY 09]. The vast majority of these words had frequencies of less than 1,000, but a small percentage of word frequencies ranged from 5,000 to 2 million, heavily skewing the distribution. To avoid a disproportionate influence from these extreme values, we used the log base 10 of the raw frequency + 1. Due to the large size of these databases, we were able to achieve a coverage of over 90% for age and concreteness. Words missing from the corpus used in SUBTLEXUS had frequency zero, which implies that we had frequency coverage for all words.

Data analysis

We did not apply statistical tests to the comparison between structures because we have access to all the words in each dictionary. Hence, our datasets are not samples from each dictionary: they are the entire population, making statistical estimation supererogatory. In addition, the number of observations for each hidden structure is so large that almost any marginal difference would yield statistically significant results. Thus, we rely on the replication of our observed pattern of results across all the individual dictionaries we have studied as confirmation of the generality of the findings.

 
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