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LINGUIST List 16.3420

Wed Nov 30 2005

Sum: Consonants vs. Vowels

Editor for this issue: Amy Renaud <renaudlinguistlist.org>


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        1.    gina cardillo, Consonants vs. Vowels


Message 1: Consonants vs. Vowels
Date: 29-Nov-2005
From: gina cardillo <ginaccu.washington.edu>
Subject: Consonants vs. Vowels


Regarding query: http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-3386.html#2

Thank you to those who responded to my query about the numbers of content
words beginning with consonants vs vowels in English.

I ended up using the MRC Psycholinguistics Database
(http://www.psy.uwa.edu.au/mrcdatabase/uwa_mrc.htm).

In the MRC database, I did a query of all phonetic transctiptions for each
initial phoneme, and found:

7600 vowel- and dipthong-initial words
21,553 consonant-initial words, excluding L,R,Y,W
24,828 consonant-initial words, including L,R,Y,W

So, based on these estimates, there are about 3 times as many
consonant-initial words as vowel-intital words in English. This search
included all content words (Nouns, Verbs, Adjs), and excluded proper nouns.
(Thus, no function words.)

The database has only 150,837 entries, so while it is not comprehensive of
the entire English lexicon (which estimates about 200,000 words in common
usage, 250,000 overall), it is fairly close. Note--it is Austrailian
English, so some of the vowel pronunciations themselves may not be entirely
accurate for SAE, but the overall C vs V should be.

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology
Text/Corpus Linguistics


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