You can’t even have a snack without running into Zipf’s Law

One of the great things about my current neighborhood is the fruit and vegetable stand.  Since the time that the proprietress chewed me out properly for picking up and sniffing the fruit, we’ve gotten along great, and I get a smile every day when I stop by to pick up my daily allotment of fresh fruit.  As always, Zipf’s Law strikes:

  • la prune: plum.  At the fruit stand this morning, I just had to point and grunt, because I didn’t know the word.
  • la framboise: rasperry.  Some great-looking tarts à la framboise at the corner patisserie.
  • la tomate: tomato.  Luckily, there was a sign by the tomatoes this morning, so I didn’t have to point-and-grunt.
  • mûr: ripe, mature.  I actually learned this word before coming here, but it sounds just like the word mur (“wall”), and when she asked me if I wanted figs that were mûr, I thought, “what’s a wall-fig?”, until she asked me “are you going to eat them today?” and I figured out which word it was.   So, I think that this word merits entry on my list of words that I didn’t know.
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2 thoughts on “You can’t even have a snack without running into Zipf’s Law”

  1. It looks like “mûr” is an example where the circumflex does not indicate a dropped “s” (as it very often does), since Larousse derives it from Latin “maturus”.

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