Developing a cross-linguistic naming test has represented a challenge in language evaluation. In this paper, it is proposed that a cross-linguistic naming test should fulfill at least the following three criteria: (1) include only “universal” words found across different languages. The basic cross-linguistic core vocabulary is usually referred as the “Swadesh word list”; (2) include different semantic categories (e.g., living and nonliving elements); and (3) avoid the confounding of perceptual difficulties. Departing from the Swadesh word list, a cross-linguistic naming test was developed, including six different semantic categories: (a) body-parts (10 words), (b) natural phenomena (non-touchable) (5 words), (c) external objects (potentially known through the sight and the touch) (5 words), (d) animals (5 words), (e) colors (5 words), and (f) actions (10 words). A total of 40 color pictures were selected to represent these basic words. It is emphasized that this test has two major advantages: on one hand, it is readily available in hundreds of different languages; and, on the other hand, it is not a “fixed” test, but it includes photographs that can be replaced. Theoretically, norms are not required, and it represents a low-ceiling test. Word frequency can be used as a criterion of the level of difficulty. The next step will be to find the performance profile in different language pathologies, as well as the decline pattern in cases of dementia.

Author notes

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Florida International University HLS139 Miami, FL 33199, USA ardilaa@fiu.edu