Sep. 24th, 2017

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Research suggests that the 4,000 to 5,000 most frequent words of a language account for up to 95 percent of written text, and the 1,000 most frequent words account for 85 percent of speech. It would therefore seem logical that studying these "most frequent" words will result in the greatest "bang" for the "buck" of effort invested when acquiring foreign language vocabulary, especially using the MMM.

For now, I will consider just the 1,000 most frequently occurring words in Spanish.

I managed to get my hands on a copy of "A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish," by Mark Davies, published in 2006 by Routledge. There is an alphabetical index of the dictionary's words at the back of the book, and after a little of this and a little of that, I managed to compile a table showing the number of words starting with 'a', 'b', 'c', etc. among the first 1,000 most common words. The table data can be conveniently represented by the following chart.

The chart does not take into account what I call "outliers," i.e., words that start with 'ñ' or with accented letters ('ú', 'ó', etc.), as there are so few of them and my goal in compiling this chart was simply to gain an understanding of how many of the 1,000 most common words started with 'a', 'b', etc.

The chart suggests that, if I wanted to create individual memory palaces for each letter, three ('k', 'w', and 'x') would theoretically not require a palace at all (but I'll make 'em anyway), eight more would require 20 or fewer stations, another eight would require between 21 and 50 stations, another five would require between 70 and 90 stations, and just two would require between 120 and 130 stations.


I think this will help me initially, from the perspective of assigning "richer" palaces (those with more stations) to store words that start with more frequently occurring initial letters.

As far as what to do when the time comes to expand the scope of learned vocabulary (the number of words starting with 'c' will quintuple by the time I get to 5,000 words)... well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!



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