Menzerath's Law
(1,679 words)

Menzerath’s Law is named after the German phonetician Paul Menzerath (1883–1954) who had observed that in German, longer words tend to contain shorter syllables, measured by their number of phonemes. He hypothesized that analogous regularities would possibly hold in other languages as well as in non-linguistic areas. Gabriel Altmann assumed that Menzerath had found a general law of language which he expected to hold on all levels of linguistic analysis: “The longer a language construct the shorter its components (constituents)” (Altmann 1980:1), or, in mathematical formulation: y…

Cite this page
Cornelia SCHINDELIN, “Menzerath's Law”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 26 May 2017 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_000161>
First published online: 2015



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