The 1000 most frequent words of most languages are mainly function words and their frequency distribution can be predicted with reasonable accuracy using the Zipf’s law. In a number of experiments we have conducted in the early ’00 for Modern Greek  we found that 90% of the 1000 most frequent words do not change even when we triple the size of the corpus (from 13Mwords to 33Mwords) and change considerably its topics and genres structure. So we are dealing probably with a lexical core which due to the grammatical character of its constituents (functional words) should be similar to most languages.
 Mikros, G., Hatzigeorgiu, N., & Carayannis, G. (2005). Basic quantitative characteristics of the Modern Greek Language using the Hellenic National Corpus. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, 12(2-3), 167-184. doi: 10.1080/09296170500172478
George K. Mikros
Associate Professor of Computational and Quantitative Linguistics
Department of Italian Language and Literature
School of Philosophy
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Panepistimioupoli Zografou, GR-15784
Tel: +30 210 7277491, +30 6976111742
Email: gmikros at isll.uoa.gr
From: corpora-bounces at uib.no [mailto:corpora-bounces at uib.no] On Behalf Of Alexander Osherenko Sent: Monday, October 10, 2011 2:23 PM To: corpora at uib.no Subject: [Corpora-List] Are frequency lists of the most languages equivalent?
I am wondering if frequency lists of the most languages can be considered as equivalent. For instance, consider an English frequency list such as the BNC frequency list ( <http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ekilgarriff%2Eco%2Euk%2Fbnc-readme%2Ehtml&urlhash=KPiq&_t=tracking_anet> http://www.kilgarriff.co.uk/bnc-readme.html) and a German frequency list ( <http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fgerman%2Eabout%2Ecom%2Flibrary%2Fblwfreq01%2Ehtm&urlhash=99CW&_t=tracking_anet> http://german.about.com/library/blwfreq01.htm). The English frequency list starts with the definite article "the". The German one - with the definite article "der". Hence, the literal translation of the word "the" in German will result the word "der".
Of course, it is not always enough to translate directly. However, I wouldn't wonder if say 70%-80% of the most frequent words in the most languages can be considered as equal. Notice I don't say the words should be also ordered in the same manner. For example, word "of" always comes before the word "appear". Nevertheless, I anticipate that words "of" and "appear" are present in the most frequent words of the most languages in every possible order even if particular language uses the word "appear" more often than the word "of".
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