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How Different Is Arabic from Other Languages? / Ahmed Masrai; Jim Milton

Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, Volume: 3, Issue: 1, Pages: 15 - 35

Swansea University Author: Milton, Jim

Wordfrequencyandlexicalcoveragev3.pdf

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Abstract

This study examines Zipf’s law as a predictor of the relationship between word frequencyand lexical coverage in Arabic. Zipf’s law has been applied in a number of languages, such asEnglish, French and Greek, and revealed useful information. However, word derivationprocesses are far more regular and...

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Published in: Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research
ISSN: 2376-760X
Published: 2016
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Abstract: This study examines Zipf’s law as a predictor of the relationship between word frequencyand lexical coverage in Arabic. Zipf’s law has been applied in a number of languages, such asEnglish, French and Greek, and revealed useful information. However, word derivationprocesses are far more regular and extensive in Arabic than they are in English and it issuspected that how words are defined may significantly affect the outcome of this kind ofanalysis. The concept of the lemma as applied to English could be redrawn for Arabicentirely credibly. In this study, Arabic lemmatised frequency lists generated from a largeWeb-based corpus have been used to calculate coverage. Results show that Zipf’s law doesapply in Arabic, and the findings suggest that the most frequent 9,000 lemmatised wordsprovide approximately 95% coverage, and 14,000 words give nearly 98% coverage. Theseresults suggest that the relationship between word frequency and coverage in Arabic iscomparable, to a certain degree, to English and Greek, but not to French. However, thedefinition of the lemma used in this study is probably more relevant to European languagesthan to Arabic and if this was changed it would significantly change the results.
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 1
Start Page: 15
End Page: 35