Archive for September, 2016

Zipf’s Law – what on earth is that?!

In the 1930s, the American psychologist and linguist George Kingsley Zipf developed a model to describe word frequency and probability distribution in texts. This is regarded as the beginning of so-called quantitative linguistics – yes, mathematicians can have fun with words too. Zipf’s law derives from this model and, having not lost its relevance, still provides conversation fodder for linguists today. The so-called Zipf distribution also plays a not altogether read more…

A hunt for clues: What are planned languages?

Most of us have probably heard of Esperanto. But what actually is it? And what are Esperanto and other planned languages actually used for? A hunt for clues. Definition Planned languages are languages which have been artificially constructed. So far so good. In contrast to natural languages – German, English, Wolof or whatever – these languages are conceptualised on paper and haven’t developed naturally in the last (couple of million) read more…