Noun distribution in natural languages

Junying Liang 1  and Haitao Liu 1
  • 1 Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

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.

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Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics publishes high-quality articles representative of theory-based empirical research in contemporary synchronic linguistics and interdisciplinary studies of language from various perspectives. The journal serves as a forum for modern developments and trends in linguistics, with contributions from the world’s leading linguistic labs.

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