Zipf’s Law and my walk to the lab

You know one of the consequences of Zipf’s Law, which describes one aspect of the statistical distribution of the lexicon of a language, namely that it’s a power law (a few words are very common, but most words occur only very rarely): if you’re learning a second language, it’s likely that there will never be a day of your life when you don’t come across words that you don’t know.  I took a different route up the hill to the lab today, which meant that I passed by a lot of houses, rather than walking through the woods.  With the winter at an end, there’s lots of work starting, leading me to run into a lot of large and small construction projects–and all of these new words for me.





4 thoughts on “Zipf’s Law and my walk to the lab”

  1. You are so right …. never a day passes that I am not writing down and looking up new words. For me, words to do with repairs, bricolage, jardinage, cooking and shopping are plentiful but ask me to to buy a tram pass for my daughter staying from England and I had to look up the work and make sure that the French really do say Tram rather than Trom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What amazes me is that even after 3 years of serious study, I’m still running into about 10 words a day, minimum… I don’t count after that, because 10 new words every day is about all that I can handle. If I have to learn more to give a talk, I’m frequently up until 4-5 AM the night before, memorizing them.

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