Zipf’s Law is embarrassing sometimes

I’m getting ready for a trip to Guatemala to spend a week interpreting for a wonderful bunch of surgeons.  Check out Surgicorps–it’s a great group, and you should totally donate.

The embarrassing thing about Zipf’s Law is that it often leads you to stumble on words that aren’t unusual at all.  For example: preparing for a trip means spending lots of time listening to the radio in the relevant language.  A few weeks ago, I was listening to a “health and beauty” show in Spanish.  The host used the word recetar, where I would have expected prescribir.  Both mean to prescribe.  I knew the word receta “prescription” (also “recipe”), but just had never heard the verbal form recetar before.  Had no clue it existed.  Unusual?  Only in the sense of rare, and then no more “unusual” than anything else.  Zipf’s Law.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Zipf’s Law is embarrassing sometimes”

  1. I’m from Guatemala. I really like reading your blog, it helps me a lot, I’m learning English. I’ll give you just a little correction; the part where you wrote about this kid who didn’t get the word “tosa” and his father said “tosá” I think you meant “tosé.” Tosá does not exist.

    ¡Saludos!

    Liked by 1 person

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