Revisiting the‘Duality of Meaning of some English Words: What’s on the Minds of Beginner Mining and Related Engineering Students’

  • P. B. Mireku-Gyimah
Keywords: Words, Duality of Meaning, First Year Students, Third Year Students


A previous paper, published by me in 2015, studied the meanings of 12 English words, written by a group of first year students of University of Mines and Technology. The objective was to determine whether the students knew both the technical or scientific/engineering meanings and the normal meanings of the words, namely: elevation, surveying, function, sign, model, drive, conductor, power, force, stress, spring, and shear. A sample size of 289 students represented the group. The students willingly did a non-test exercise that permitted them to anonymously write the meanings of the words as they knew them without reference to dictionaries. The students’ responses were put into five categories of meaning for each word. The results revealed that 84 (29.07%) provided only scientific/engineering meanings, 153 (53.00%) provided only normal meanings, 15 (5.16%) provided both scientific/engineering meanings and normal meanings, 32 (11.07%) provided no meanings (nil), and 5 (1.70%) provided wrong meanings of some words. Thus, the majority of the students did not know both meanings, which pointed to students’ vocabulary challenges. This paper is revisiting the previous paper, to do a follow-up, using the same method and English words as in the previous study to find the progress of the same group of students who are now in their third year of study. From the current results, out of a total of 289 students, 48 (16.46%) gave only scientific/engineering meanings, 98 (33.94%) gave only normal meanings, 100 (34.69%) gave both scientific/engineering meanings and normal meanings, 39 (13.41%) gave no meanings (nil), and 4 (1.50%) gave wrong meanings, of some words. It is concluded that the students have made progress but there is more room for improvement. Therefore, it is recommended that the students work harder, and also be exposed to the register of their engineering disciplines early.


Keywords: Words, Duality of Meaning, First Year Students, Third Year Students


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eISSN: 0855-210X