Zipf's Law and Avoidance of Excessive Synonymy

Dmitrii Manin

Zipf's law states that if words of language are ranked in the order of decreasing frequency in texts, the frequency of a word is inversely proportional to its rank. It is very robust as an experimental observation, but to date it escaped satisfactory theoretical explanation. We suggest that Zipf's law may arise from the evolution of word semantics dominated by expansion of meanings and competition of synonyms.

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