[Lingtyp] Frequency of front/back, high/mid vowels

Sebastian Nordhoff sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de
Mon Sep 14 08:44:07 UTC 2020

On 9/14/20 10:20 AM, JOO, Ian [Student] wrote:
> Dear Sebastian,
> Please check phoible.org

Dear Ian,
phoible seems to confirm hypothesis 2) and 3) for types, but not 1) 
(numbers are percentages):

i 92        u 88
   e 61     o 60
       a 86

(one would have to include ɔ and epsilon where there is no e/o, but I do 
not know how to do this in the web interface)

Is there any information about tokens? For instance, Spanish has the 
following token frequencies in texts 

e: 13.68%
a: 12.53%
o:  8.68%
i:  6.25%
u:  3.93%

So the high vowels /i/ and /u/ are less frequent than the mid vowels /e/ 
and /o/, disconfirming  hypothesis 2. (This is based on graphemes, but 
Spanish orthography is sufficiently phonemic).

Best wishes

> Regards,
> Ian
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *보낸 사람:* Sebastian Nordhoff <sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de> 대신 
> Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org>
> *보낸 날짜:* Monday, September 14, 2020 4:18:08 PM
> *받는 사람:* lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org 
> <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
> *제목:* [Lingtyp] Frequency of front/back, high/mid vowels
> Dear list members,
> do we have any information about the cross-linguistic validity of the
> following hypotheses?
> 1) front vowels like /i/, /e/ are more frequent than back vowels like
> /u/, /o/
> 2) high vowels like /i/, /u/  are more frequent than mid vowels like
> /e/, /o/.
> 3) "corner vowels" /a/, /i/, /u/ are more frequent than anything else.
> I am interested in information about types (phonemic inventory) as well
> as tokens (counts in texts).
> Best wishes and than you for your time
> Sebastian
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