Name three of the four most
frequently occurring words in English writing?
Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.
The critically-acclaimed board game
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
the, of, and to
According to John Allen Paulos in
The formula for 'success' (
The Guardian, Thursday July 22, 2004):
"In English, for example, the word
the appears most frequently and is said to have
rank order 1; the words of rank 2, 3, and 4 are of, and, and
Zipf's Law relates
the frequency of a word to its rank order k and states that a word's frequency
in a written text is proportional to 1/k^1;
that is, inversely proportional to the first power of k. (Thus
of occurs half as frequently as
the, and a
third as frequently as the - and
synecdoche hardly at all.)"
Note: Top Twenty Written
English Words (in order of most to least used): the of and to in a
for was is that on at he with by be it an as his
Top Twenty Spoken English
Words (in order of most to least used): the and I to of a you that in
it is yes was this but on well he have for
My choice for the four words: Impeach George Bush
now. It's even a sentence.
I have a wonderful book on my shelf titled "A
Russian Learner's Dictionary" which lists the 10,000 most used Russian words
with their usages and translations into English.
It's a fantastic book for understanding the
differences in language usage between Russian and English. I've been on the
hunt for a similar book in English to no avail. If anyone knows of such a book,
I'd love to explore this topic in depth.
I'm surprised to find that "I" isn't in the top 20
written words. Maybe we aren't so egocentric after all.
Interesting that "no" should not be in
the top 20 spoken words. We are a gregarious species I guess.
No ifs or buts about
yalecohen ) )alumni.cmu.edu
absence of she/her, even they/their, from either list. Thank God, "like" does
not yet appear on the spoken list.
[Mootguy: In Canadian spoken English "eh" clocks in at number
slundgren at warnerpacific.edu
It seems he and yes are used more often
that she and no. I wonder if this has any significance?
wodonnell1 at nc.rr.com
Copyright 1998-2009 Blair Arts Ltd. All rights reserved.