I'm writing a post about word length in various languages in the world. It seems that English have (relatively) a lot of one-syllable words. Is there a count or an estimate of how many one-syllable words exists in English?

*I think it's because English have a lot of vowels and possible consonant clusters, they are a lot of possible syllables. This allows English to have a lot of one-syllable words.

  • I suspect that it's because English retains a lot of Anglo-Saxon words, which are usually monosyllablic. (I think that English has kept a lot of old words, which tend to have just one sound.) – Andrew Leach Jul 19 '15 at 18:23
  • @Andrew Leach: Maybe the ones you know are, but Anglo-Saxon words are not "usually monosyllabic". – TRomano Jul 19 '15 at 19:46
  • Perhaps what he meant is that Anglo-Saxon words are more likely to be monosyllabic than Latinate words. – Barmar Jul 20 '15 at 16:19
  • Of course, the ability to add numerous affixes to most words means that the total number of words will be many times more than the number of monosyllabic words, because you can create numerous variations of most of them. – Barmar Jul 20 '15 at 16:21
  • Um...ah...hm..more than you think – Oldcat Sep 18 '15 at 0:29

In the Beginning was Information by Werner Gitt may provide you with a starting point for your investigation. Gitt claims that 71.5% of English words are monosyllabic. You'll have to decide whether Gitt's sampling universe is to your liking.

  • 2
    Is Gitt calculating the percentage of words in the vocabulary, or the percentage of words in the corpus? Almost all of the 100 most common words in English are monosyllabic, and these top 100 words make up half of all written material in English. – Barmar Jul 20 '15 at 16:25
  • It seems like he must be talking about the corpus. There are around a million words in the English language, but I can't believe there are over 700,000 words with just one syllable. – Barmar Jul 20 '15 at 16:28
  • In fact, reading the linked site carefully, he definitely is talking about that. He writes "These frequency distributions were obtained from fiction texts". – Barmar Jul 20 '15 at 16:29

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