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The anatomy of a word list

Richard Benton

On June 12, 1982, a little book with a long title, Ko Ngā Kupu Pū Noa o te Reo Māori: The First Basic Māori Word List, was launched by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research. The 'basic-ness' of the words included in the book (there are about 800 of them) was determined by a combination of how often they occurred and how well they were distributed in the sources from which they were gathered. This article outlines the way in which the Basic Word List was developed and organized. A number of general issues relating to words and word lists are discussed, as are some similarities and differences between the content and construction of the Māori list and other word lists in common use. It also explains how the Basic Māori Word List can be used by teachers and learners of Māori.

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