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  • Author: Junying Liang x
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Abstract

In this paper, we compare the word length motif in modern spoken Chinese and written Chinese, and attempt to make clear how it evolves in written Chinese. The synchronic studies show that the rank-frequency distributions can be fitted with power law function y=axb, and the length distributions can be fitted with the Hyper-Pascal function. As for the diachronic studies, evolutionary regularities are found. On the one hand, we found an increasing trend of parameter a and a decreasing trend of parameter b in the rank-frequency distribution function y=axb. On the other hand, although the motif length distributions of ancient Chinese cannot be fitted with the Hyper- Pascal function, the entropy analyses show that there is a tendency that the distributions are more concentrated on some certain motif patterns.

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Abstract

Previous research on word class distribution claimed that 37% of word tokens are nouns, suggesting that there might exist a certain regularity of noun proportion among human languages. To explore this possibility, we examined the proportion of noun and four other word classes within British and American English, and across seven languages in terms of different word frequency band. Results indicated that the noun proportion is evidently about or larger than 37%, and meanwhile increases with word rarity. Among frequent words, nouns increase as minor word classes decrease, whereas among rare words, the noun proportion remains a stable level.