Author Topic: The Power Law Distribution/Zipf's Law  (Read 29 times)

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Offline npreddy

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The Power Law Distribution/Zipf's Law
« on: May 01, 2021, 01:15:39 AM »
Something that language learners might soon realize is though they can have a conversational grasp on a language, reading and listening comprehension are significantly more difficult. This link: https://luckytoilet.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/the-power-law-distribution-and-the-harsh-reality-of-language-learning/ explains this concept and why it is the case.

To put it simply, conversation partners can adjust their speech to match the learner's level, while reading material will not. This is related to power law distribution. In other words, words are more common than each other by exponential degrees. A learner can learn 50% of a corpus or more, but for each proceeding percentage, the amount of words that will have to be learned increases by large magnitudes. This means that a reader can understand a lot of the individual words in the text, but key words can be rare and often debilitating to full reading comprehension. The good news is that to reach conversational fluency, it should be a relatively quick process for a studious learner. The bad news is that to reach "fluency" in reading, it will take a much longer time. A dictionary will have to be on hand (or simply Google) if a student wants to tackle longer or more complicated texts, even after becoming rather proficient at speaking.