Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

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Zipf's Law
(1,051 words)

Zipf’s Law, in its linguistic application, states that in a text written in a natural language, the frequency of any word is inversely proportional to its rank number in the frequency table of all the words found in this text, arranged in decreasing order. It is named after the American linguist and philologist George Kingsley Zipf (1902–1950) who had examined various quantitative relationships in a number of areas, going far beyond language (for a critical review see Rapoport 1982:1–8). Zipf’s …

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Cornelia SCHINDELIN, “Zipf's Law”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 21 March 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_000147>
First published online: 2015

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