10,000 Most Frequent ‘Words’ in the Latin Library


A few months ago, I posted a list of the 10,000 most frequent words in the PHI Classical Latin Texts. While I did include a notebook with the code for that experiment, I could not include the data because the PHI texts are not available for redistribution. So here is an updated post, based on a freely available corpus of Latin literature—and one that I have been using for my recent Disiecta Membra posts like this one and this one and this one—the Latin Library. (The timing is good, as the Latin Library has received some positive attention recently.) The code for this post is available as a Jupyter Notebook here.

The results, based on the 13,563,476 tokens in the Latin Library:

Top 10 tokens in Latin Library:

       TOKEN       COUNT       TYPE-TOK %  RUNNING %   
    1. et          446474      3.29%       3.29%       
    2. in          274387      2.02%       5.31%       
    3. est         174413      1.29%       6.6%        
    4. non         166083      1.22%       7.83%       
    5. -que        135281      1.0%        8.82%       
    6. ad          133596      0.98%       9.81%       
    7. ut          119504      0.88%       10.69%      
    8. cum         109996      0.81%       11.5%       
    9. quod        104315      0.77%       12.27%      
   10. si          95511       0.70%       12.97%

How does this compare with the previous test against the PHI run? Here are the frequency rankings from the PHI run, 1 through 10: et, in, -que, ne, est, non, ut, cum, si, and ad. So—basically, the same. The loss of ne from the top 10 is certainly a result of improvements to the CLTK tokenizer, specifically improvements in tokenizing the the enclitic -ne. Ne is now #41 with 26,825 appearances and -ne #30 with 36,644 appearances. The combined count would still not crack the Top 10, which suggests that there may have been a lot of words wrongly tokenized of the form, e.g. ‘homine’ as [‘homi’, ‘-ne’]. (I suspect that this still happens, but am confident that the frequency of this problem is declining. If you spot any “bad” tokenization involving words ending in ‘-ne‘ or ‘-n‘, please submit an issue.) With ne out of the Top 10, we see that quod has joined the list. It should come as little surprise that quod was #11 in the PHI frequency list.

Since the PHI post, significant advances have been made with the CLTK Latin lemmatizer. Recent tests show accuracies consistently over 90%. So, let’s put out a provisional list of top lemmas as well—

Top 10 lemmas in Latin Library:

       LEMMA       COUNT       TYPE-LEM %  RUNNING %   
    1. et          446474      3.29%       3.29%       
    2. sum         437415      3.22%       6.52%       
    3. qui         365280      2.69%       9.21%       
    4. in          274387      2.02%       11.23%      
    5. is          213677      1.58%       12.81%      
    6. non         166083      1.22%       14.03%      
    7. -que        144790      1.07%       15.1%       
    8. hic         140421      1.04%       16.14%      
    9. ad          133613      0.99%       17.12%      
   10. ut          119506      0.88%       18.0%

No real surprises here. Six from the Top 10 lemmas are indeclinable, whether conjunctions, prepositions, adverbs, or enclitic, and so remain from the top tokens list: etinnon-quead and ut. Forms of sum and qui can be found in the top tokens list as well, est and quod respectively. Hic rises to the top based on its large number of relatively high ranking forms, though it should be noted that its top ranking form is #23 (hoc), followed by #46 (haec), #71 (his), #91 (hic), and #172 (hanc) among others. Is also joins the top 10, though I have my concerns about this because of the relatively high frequency of overlapping forms with the verb eo (i.e. eoiseam, etc.). This result should be reviewed and tested further.

While I’m thinking about it, other concerns I have would be the counts for hic, i.e. with respect to the demonstrative and the adverb, as well as the slight fluctuations in the counts of indeclinables, e.g. ut (119,504 tokens vs. 119,506 lemmas), or the somewhat harder to explain jump in -que. So, we’ll consider this a work in progress. But one that is—at least for the Top 10—more or less in line with other studies (e.g. Diederich, which—with the exception of cum—has same words, if different order.)


10,000 Most Frequent ‘Words’ in the Latin Canon, revisited


Last year, the CLTK’s Kyle Johnson wrote a post on the “10,000 most frequent words in Greek and Latin canon”. Since that post was written, I updated the CLTK’s Latin tokenizer to better handle enclitics and other affixes. I thought it would be a good idea to revisit that post for two reasons: 1. to look at the most important changes introduced by the new tokenizer features, and 2. to discuss briefly what we can learn from the most frequent words as I continue to develop the new Latin lemmatizer for the CLTK.

Here is an iPython notebook with the code for generating the Latin list: https://github.com/diyclassics/lemmatizer/blob/master/notebooks/phi-10000.ipynb. I have followed Johnson’s workflow, i.e. tokenize the PHI corpus and create a frequency distribution list. (In a future post, I will run the same experiment on the Latin Library corpus using the built-in NLTK FreqDist function.)

Here are the results:

Top 10 tokens using the NLTK tokenizer:
et	197240
in	141628
est	99525
non	91073
ut	70782
cum	61861
si	60652
ad	59462
quod	53346
qui	46724
Top 10 tokens using the CLTK tokenizer:
et	197242
in	142130
que	110612
ne	103342
est	103254
non	91073
ut	71275
cum	65341
si	61776
ad	59475

The list gives a good indication of what the new tokenizer does:

  • The biggest change is that the (very common) enclitics -que and -ne take their place in the list of top Latin tokens.
  • The words et and non (words which do not combine with -que) are for the most part unaffected.
  • The words estin, and ut see their count go up because of enclitic handling in the Latin tokenizer, e.g. estne > est, ne; inque > in, que. While these tokens are the most obvious examples of this effect, it is the explanation for most of the changed counts on the top 10,000 list, e.g. amorque amor, que. (Ad is less clear. Adque may be a variant of atque; this should be looked into.)
  • The word cum also see its count go up, both because of enclitic handling and also because of the tokenization of forms like mecum as cumme.
  • The word si sees its count go up because the Latin tokenizer handles contractions if words like sodes (siaudes) and sultis (sivultis).

I was thinking about this list of top tokens as I worked on the Latin lemmatizer this week. These top 10 tokens represent 17.3% of all the tokens in the PHI corpus; related, the top 228 tokens represent 50% of the corpus. Making sure that these words are handled correctly then will have the largest overall effect on the accuracy of the Latin lemmatizer.

A few observations…

  • Many of the highest frequency words in the corpus are conjunctions, prepositions, adverbs and other indeclinable, unambiguous words. These should be lemmatized with dictionary matching.
  • Ambiguous tokens are the real challenge of the lemmatizer project and none is more important than cumCum alone makes up 1.1% of the corpus with both the conjunction (‘when’) and the preposition (‘with’) significantly represented. Compare this with est, which is an ambiguous form (i.e. est sum “to be” vs. est edo “to eat”), but with one occurring by far more frequently in the corpus. For this reason, cum will be a good place to start with testing a context-based lemmatizer, such as one that uses bigrams to resolve ambiguities. Quod and quam, also both in the top 20 tokens, can be added to this category.

In addition to high-frequency tokens, extremely rare tokens also present a significant challenge to lemmatization. Look for a post about hapax legomena in the Latin corpus later this week.