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Science communication is important in today's technologically advanced society. A good part of the adult community is not science saavy and lacks the background to make sense of rapidly changing technology. My blog attempts to help by publishing articles of general interest in an easy to read and understand format without using mathematics. I also give free lectures in community events - you can arrange these by writing to me.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Letter Frequency in Spellings of Words and Numbers in the English Language

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The subject of this blog is completely different - I think it is insane.  
But I had to write it down as it appears so fascinatingly interesting, albeit useless.

If you look at the website (http://letterfrequency.org/), you can find the order in which letters of the alphabet occur in words of the English language.  They occur in the following order - highest frequency first:

e t a o i n s r h l d c u m f p g w y b v k x j q z
The first 12 letters are found in 80% of the words. 
Actual values are (notice slight discrepancy after letter m)

The story begins with my granddaughter writing to me to say that the spellings of numbers from zero to ninety-nine do not contain the first four letters of the alphabet, namely a, b, c and d.  I was surprised to see the letter a in the list as it is the third most frequent letter used in English language, and to be missing in the spellings of the first thousand numbers (it first appears in a thousand) would be curious.
I then got down to prepare a list of letters missing in number spellings. What use is it? - I have no idea but I think it is insanely interesting.
(The notation used here is: 10^n is 1 followed by n zeros; 10^2 is 100; 10^6 is 1,000,000 or 1 million; and so on)
       Letter                   First Appearance 

          a                 10^3  or 1,000  Thousand
          b                 10^9       or       Billion
          c                 10^27     or       Octillion
          d                 10^2       or       Hundred 
          j                 does not occur in any spellings
          k                does not occur in any spellings
          m                10^6       or       Million
          p                 10^24     or       Septillion
          q                 10^15     or       Quadrillion

I might have missed something and got one or more errors in the list - please let me know.

I could start looking at negative powers of 10 but I think that is taking things a bit too far.

I hope you enjoyed reading through the blog - slightly different from the usual serious stuff; this is what you get when you start talking to your grandchildren. 

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