Frequency (Quantitative linguistics)

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Frequency is one of the most prominent quantitative properties of linguistic units among others, such as length, comlexity, polysemy, age, polytextuality, and homonymy.

Laws and hypotheses concerning frequency are based on

(1) distributional analyses (in form of rank-frequency distributions, cf. the well-known Zipf (Zipf-Mandelbrot) law, or in the spectral form, which represents the number of units with a given frequency;

(2) functional interrelations such as the dependence of the length of many types of units on their frequency or the dependence of frequency on polytextuality;

(3) the development of the frequency of a given unit (type) over the time.

There are several linguistic units which can be investigated according to their frequency of occurrence: sounds or phonemes, letters, syllables, morph(em)s, words, word classes such as part-of-speech, and even higher units such as syntactic constructions.

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