[b-hebrew] Re. Zipf and B-Hebrew

Russ Bellon russbellon at gmail.com
Mon Oct 15 08:52:58 EDT 2007


James, you wrote:
>"I think you have misunderstood my summary of Zipf's suggestion. He is not
merely suggesting that all languages have unambiguous words and ambiguous
words. He is stating that the combination of forces produced by the needs of
the hearer and the speaker produce the tendency for common words to have
multiple senses/meanings and for rare words to have specific unambiguous
meanings.

He further suggests that there is a curve exhibited with common words were
common words have multiple meanings and more common words have more meanings
and even more common words have even more possible meanings. If you still
don't understand his suggestion please be more specific about which part/s
you didn't understand so that I can attempt to explain his suggestion
better."
>

My understanding of Zipf's position is limited to what you have posted, but
it looks to me like he is positing some completely unnecessary forces to
explain our natural facility with language. Humans have a tendancy to add
connotative value to the most commonly used tools in out language simply
because they are the most commonly used. We are clever with our language and
are more clever with the parts with wich we are most familiar. i don't see
the need for any mysterious forces here.

Russ Bellon



More information about the b-hebrew mailing list