Language word frequencies

Since one of the cornerstones of my approach to learning the Russian language has been to track how many words I’ve learned and their frequencies, I was intrigued by reading the following statistics today:

  • The 15 most frequent words in the language account for 25% of all the words in typical texts.
  • The first 100 words account for 60% of the words appearing in texts.
  • 97% of the words one encounters in a ordinary text will be among the first 4000 most frequent words.

In other words, if you learn the first 4000 words of a language, you’ll be able to understand nearly everything.

Source - Five Cornerstones for Second-Language Acquisition - the Neurophysiological Opportunist’s Way - Olle Kjellin, M.D., Ph.D. but originally from The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (Crystal, 1995)