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October 2021

English letter frequencies as found in Whissell's parsimonious sampling of English words

Author(s): Ridley, L. G., Walker, C. B.

Journal/Book: Percept Mot Skills. 1999; 88: PO Box 9229, Missoula, MT 59807, USA. Perceptual Motor Skills. 607-614.

Abstract: An estimate of English letter frequencies is reported. The major part of the textual sample was 320,780 words, comprising 6,505 different words from 1998 work of Whissell as parsimoniously describing modern English patterns of word use. To this sample has been added another of 1,000 words to represent English words generally rarer than the 6,505. Comparison with estimated English letter frequencies from a sample over 160 years old suggested strong stability in letter frequencies over time. The old sample did, however, tend to overestimate che occurrence of rare letters (j, q, x, and z). An application of the findings to the teaching of letter recognition is explored.

Note: Article Ridley DR, Christopher Newport Univ, Off Inst Effectiveness, 1 Univ Pl, Newport News,VA 23606 USA


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