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The Zipf Mystery

RayDunzl

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#1
 
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RayDunzl

RayDunzl

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Thread Starter #4
Evelyn, a modified dog
Viewed the quivering fringe of a special doily
Draped across the piano, with some surprise

In the darkened room
Where the chairs dismayed
And the horrible curtains
Muffled the rain
She could hardly believe her eyes

A curious breeze
A garlic breath
Which sounded like a snore
Somewhere near the Steinway (or even from within)
Had caused the doily fringe to waft & tremble in the gloom

Evelyn, a dog, having undergone
Further modification
Pondered the significance of short-person behavior
In pedal-depressed panchromatic resonance
And other highly ambient domains...
Arf she said
 

amirm

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#5
Quite fascinating. Even more fascinating is how the most common word, "the" is also one with least value. It often doesn't add to the meaning of what we are trying to convey. "The world as we know it" vs "world as we know it." What did "the" add to it?
 

amirm

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#11
The world as we know it
A world as we know it


Quite a distinction
I don't see it. Both could be used interchangeably as needed and reduce book word count by 6% or whatever he said in video. Or is it, in the video? :)
 
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#13
I don't see it. Both could be used interchangeably as needed and reduce book word count by 6% or whatever he said in video. Or is it, in the video? :)
"The" is a definite article whereas "a/an" is an indefinite article. I spend a non-trivial amount of time at work correcting the/a/an errors.

Edit: this could use a better explanation and some examples. The choice of definite or indefinite article is contextual.
Alice: "I'm taking the car to the mall."
Bob: "Ok."

Alice: "I'm taking a car to the mall."
Bob: "Huh? Whose car?"

Alice: "I bought a dress."
Bob: "Nice."

Alice: "I bought the dress."
Bob: [pretends to remember the previous conversation] "Nice."
 
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Pluto

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#14
I don't see it. Both could be used interchangeably as needed
For me, the most poignant idea within that video was the desire of the speaker to get away with as few words as possible while the listener has the fundamentally contrary requirement for maximum detail, predicating the use of a large vocabulary to achieve clarity and precision.

These days, we have the wonderful example of this theory in action with the use of txt spk in which the speaker will go to the most astonishing lengths to achieve the necessary brevity, simultaneously sacrificing accuracy of meaning. Emoticons may go some way in redressing this imbalance but nobody in their right mind would suggest that txt spk would be a suitable language for, say, the drafting of laws. Yet, there would appear to be a significant probability that txt spk with all its vagaries, inaccuracies and incapability of precision may become embedded within the language within the next generation or two.

Much of the greatest work throughout history was achieved when scholars had as much space as they required to express and examine their ideas i.e. within sensible limits, a book could be made as large as necessary. Imposing a limit of a few hundred characters could end up becoming the biggest step backwards since an ancient scribe had to fit his entire treatise on one side of a slab of stone.
 

andreasmaaan

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#16
As this is an audio forum, I took it upon myself to generate this WAV file to demonstrate how a harmonic series obeying Zipf's Law sounds.

Warning: loud.
 

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