This study investigated the lexical coverage and frequency of occurrence of 318 common science-specific technical word families in a corpus of science fiction-fantasy texts in order to determine the potential for science fiction-fantasy literature to be a resource for incidental technical vocabulary acquisition. Coverage of the word list in the science fiction-fantasy corpus was found to be 0.50%, which was 46% higher than coverage of the same list in a corpus of fiction texts (0.27%), and 70% lower than coverage of the same list in a corpus of academic science journals (1.68%). These findings suggest that, in terms of exposure to technical vocabulary, science fiction-fantasy could serve as a bridge resource for second-language learners studying or prespecializing in the Sciences. A frequency analysis revealed that the highest potential for lexical learning occurs at the 500,000-word reading level, at which 21% of science words occurred 10+ times and 83% occurred 1+ times. Potential lexical gains, as well as both practical and theoretical implications, are discussed.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Academic English, English for Specific Purposes, Extensive reading, Incidental learning, Language through literature, Technical vocabulary
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2017.07.002
Journal English for Specific Purposes
Citation
Rolls, H. (Heather), & Rodgers, M.P.H. (2017). Science-specific technical vocabulary in science fiction-fantasy texts: A case for ‘language through literature’. English for Specific Purposes, 48, 44–56. doi:10.1016/j.esp.2017.07.002