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Description: Vocabulary size is a crucial early indicator of language development, for both monolingual and bilingual children. Assessing vocabulary in bilingual children is complex because they learn words in two languages, and there remains significant controversy about how to best measure their vocabulary size, especially in relation to monolinguals. This study compared monolingual vocabulary to different metrics of bilingual vocabulary, including combining vocabulary across languages to count either the number of words or the number of concepts lexicalized, and assessing vocabulary in a single language. Data were collected from parents of 743 infants and toddlers aged 8–33 months learning French and/or English, using the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories. Results showed that the nature and magnitude of monolingual–bilingual differences depended on how bilinguals’ vocabulary was measured. Compared to monolinguals, bilinguals had larger expressive and receptive word vocabularies, similarly-sized receptive concept vocabularies, and smaller expressive concept vocabularies. Bilinguals’ single-language vocabularies were smaller than monolinguals’ vocabularies. The study highlights the need to better understand the role of translation equivalents in bilingual vocabulary development and the potential developmental differences in receptive and expressive vocabularies.


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