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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Summary Details

Query:   Vocabulary Statistics
Author:  Richard Hudson
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Text/Corpus Linguistics

Summary:   A few weeks ago I broadcast a double query about the statistics of English
vocabulary. My first question was about the number of morphemes compared
with the number of lemmas, but nobody offered an answer.

My second question was more successful. This was about the proportion of
lemmas in each of the main word classes, and how this proportion varied
with token frequency; I was particularly keen to check a guess that the
proportion of nouns was greater among rare lemmas than among common ones. I
received data from Gwillim Law and Jasper Holmes. It turns out that my
guess was right. I've presented and summarised the data at
http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/dick/nouniness/nouniness.htm. If anyone has
comments or further data (including data on other languages), I should of
course be most interested to hear from them.

LL Issue: 20.413
Date Posted: 09-Feb-2009
Original Query: Read original query


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