Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Roughly speaking, 17 miscellaneous items

1) When Mark over at the Language Log crosslinked to my Simpsons post, traffic on this blog increased roughly fiftyfold. It's fun to track via Sitemeter. Especially fun to look at the world map of who's on where at a given time. Thanks, Mark!

2) There's a fairly bizarre series of language-related scene-setting descriptions in a recent NYT article about the sensational trial of a 'Mafia Cop' (starting at the last para before the fold):
"Beneath the facts, however, lies an urban universe of glottal accents and working-class grammar that may be getting as old as the marijuana dealer, Burton Kaplan, 72, who, in testimony, said that he should have "stood" in school."
3) I find a recent post about Wittgenstein over at logicandlanguage.net quite amusing. I'm anxiously awaiting the translation verdict on the phrase, 'Roughly speaking...' Is that pretty much what W. intended to say?

4) I'm of course curious as to whether the Dakota and Carrier Scrabble letter distributions were based on the frequency of letters in corpora of each language, or on the frequency of letters in the lexicon of each language...Bill? Ben ? Update: See Ben's answer in the comments section below.

5) In my Simpsons post, I forgot to link to a Simpsons language joke over at Literal-Minded that appeared a while back. It's at the bottom of this post. It'd go under the heading "Interpretation of plural number marking." Hee. Update: Neal has just posted on another one, which I was planning to note down in my list for next year, from this Sunday's show, but now I won't have to. Thanks, Neal!

6) It recently occurred to me to wonder whether the availability of P-stranding in a language correlates with the absence of pro-drop in that language. Obviously P-stranding languages, like English, Dutch, Norwegian, are not pro-drop; anti-stranding languages like Italian are not. French is not pro-drop and (mostly) not P-stranding, so it's clear the correlation doesn't hold in that direction, but what about the other one? Anyone know of a robustly P-stranding language that is unambiguously pro-drop (I know about Irish... it's not really unambiguous in its prodroppiness)?

7) Wave of the future? I recently participated in a conference in Syracuse by delivering a talk from Tucson via webcam, along with my colleague who had the idea, Andrew Carnie. It was fine -- fun to take questions from people hundreds of miles away during the question period -- but frustrating in that I didn't get to see the other talks, since I didn't really want to spend the weekend sitting in front of a computer. (I was very grateful that the non-virtual attendees were willing to spend an hour watching my (fore)head on a movie screen!) I did get their handouts though.

8) Here's a link to that important recent work of M. Goose and R. Rabbit I was alluding to a few weeks ago. Check it out -- it's chock-full o' truthiness. (Chock-full 'o truthy goodness? Snowclone alert!)

9) Haven't gone back to try puzzle number 17 yet, but I will soon... I'm scared, now that Lance has blanked! Check out his excellent example sign post, though. How does that whole construal thing work, anyway?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Try the Linguist List 'Lexicon' game...

Thanks to SC for the link to the linguistic puzzlers up on the Linguist List as part of their annual Fund Drive. I happily clicked my way through to screen 9, but now I'm stumped. Better go to bed and try again in the morning.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Hippo Birdie to This Blog

So a year ago today (ok, yesterday, technically, it being after midnight), I was having so much fun reading the linguistics blogs I figured I oughter start one up. I think the post activity on this blog has followed a fairly typical pattern of waxing and waning, but so far it's always gone back to the waxng side so I'll count this as my one-year anniversary as a blogger. I hadn't noticed at the time that it was St. Patrick's day, but I notice this year; that'll make the occasion easy to remember.

In honor of the occasion, I post a follow-up to my most popular post ever: linguistically relevant Simpsons jokes. Since last year I've been noting them down when catching the show, and have found a whole bunch more... and this isn't really even the tip of the iceberg; I'm sure I'll have more by next year. I've tried to stay away from ones added to the comments section of the original post, though I may have doubled up in places; apologies if so. I didn't go get all the episode reference numbers this time; I just note the episode title and original air date.


Maximum Homerdrive. 1999.

Quantifier interpretation:

Homer and Bart watching a drive-in movie, “The Monster That Ate Everybody”

Movie Girl: You mean, it ate Patrick too?
Movie Guy: It ate everybody!
Movie Girl: What about Erica?
Homer and Bart, in unison with Movie Guy: It ate EVERYBODY!

Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken. 1998.

Generic nature of -er nominalizations:

(Homer picking up the family after an Isotopes game, after having been dissing the Isotopes earlier.)
Homer: Who won? The losers?
Bart: No, they lost.
Homer: Those losers!

Lisa the Simpson. 1998.

Inchoative deadjectival verb formation with -en, again:

Lisa, worried that the ‘Simpson Gene’ is kicking in, writes in her ‘Flowers for Algernon’-style log:

“Dear log, can it be true? Do all Simpsons go through a process of dumbening? Wait, that's not how you spell dumbening. Wait, dumbening isn't even a word!”

Accents, stereotypes:

Later in the episode, when she’s imagining her future as an obese, soap-watching mother of twenty, she imagines herself speaking in the same accent that the slack-jawed yokels have.

The President Wore Pearls. 2003.


Lisa (just elected school president): I think I can say, with all humility, I am going to be the best school president ever!
Bart: (claps loudly and slowly. With sarcastic intonation) Bra-vo, Lisa, Bra-vo!
Marge: Oh, isn’t that sweet? Even your brother’s adding his kudos!
Bart: No! I was being sarcastic!
Marge: You were?
Bart (sarcastic intonation): Nooo. I was being sin-CERE.
Homer: Oh, I’m so confused!

Treehouse of Horror III. 1992.


Scary man in House of Evil (“Your One Stop Evil Shop”): (Ominously) We sell forbidden objects from places men fear to tread. (Cheerfully) We also sell frozen yogurt, which I call frogurt!

Spelling of interdental fricatives:

Marge Bouvier (as the girl in King Kong): Am I going too?
Burns (as leader of expedition in King Kong): Of course! We wouldn’t think of going without the bait!…ah, that is, the bait-thing beauty, the bathing beauty! (aside: I covered that up pretty well!)

Homer’s Paternity Coot. 2006.

Double plurals, locatum verbs, reverse reading of de-prefixation

Mayor Quimby (worried because everyone’s taking an alternate route around the toll road): Damnit! We need those seventy-five centses to de-python the town fountain!

Midnight Rx. 2005.

Language loss:

Video in drug company office (Pharm-er John’s Productions):
Voiceover: The mighty Amazon river. The natives had a word for it. Then we got rid of the natives, and no one remembers that word.

Back-formation, cran-morphs:

(Smithers is on the floor with a swelling thyroid, gasping and choking):
Burns: Smithers! Is this some sort of high jink!? Stop it immediately!

The Girl Who Slept Too Little. 2005.


Karl: Now we’ll be at the mercy of weekend philatelists!
Lenny: Why can’t you just say stamp collectors?
Karl: I’m tired of dumbing myself down for you!

My Big Fat Geek Wedding. 2004.

Focus constructions, idiom chunks, reanalysis:

Carl: Come on, have a beer!
Skinner: I can’t! I might be called upon to give directions later!
Chalmers: Skinner! You were asked to chugalug, and a lug you shall chug!

Pronominal antecedent ambiguity:

Marge (explaining why she doesn’t want Edna and Skinner to get back together): I won’t let Edna throw her life away for some passionless marriage, where two people lie in bed together with no contact, whittling away the batteries until they die!
Homer: Which are you saying is dead -- our marriage or our batteries?

Clipping, acroblends:

ComicBookGuy: We’re doing everything together — breakfast, bath, and then the Bimonthly Science Fiction Convention:
Bart: The BiMonSciFiCon!?

(Later in the episode Klingon is spoken at the BiMonSciFiCon.)

Wandering Juvie. 2004

Focus intonation:

Woman in Costingtons selling Marge face cream: And, it contains over 60 INGREDIENTS!!

Faith Off. 2000.

Confusability of multiple negations:

At ‘Brother Faith’s Revival’, Brother Faith is introducing his act with some high-energy patter:
Brother Faith: Now, correct me if I’m incorrect, but was I told that it’s untrue that people in Springfield have no faith? Was I not misinformed?
Audience: (murmurs of puzzlement)
Brother Faith: The answer I’m looking for is ‘Yes’.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star. 2005.

Back-formation, idiom chunk

Skinner, collaring Bart for unleashing a plague of rats on the school (which he didn’t):

Bart: No way! I didn’t do it! Unlike all the other stuff I told you I didn’t do which I did.
Skinner: Bart, I’m sick of playing the tom fool!

Last of the Red Hot Mamas. 2005.

Twin language:

The twins Sherri and Terri say, ‘Let’s speak in our secret twin language!’ and act/verbalize oddly like Frink does at the end of each utterance.

Language acquisiton, first and second:

Lisa tries to learn Italian. Milhouse, who has been covertly bilingual all this time, is her instructor.
Luigi comes up to Lisa and Milhouse in Little Italy.
Luigi: Mr. Milhouse -- thanka gooddness! Could you trannzlate an helpa me my cheese for my lasagna
Lisa: But Luigi! Surely you speak Italian!
Luigi (sighs): No I don’t. I only speak ahh, how you say, um, fractured Englisha — that’s what my parents spoke at home.

Brother from the Same Planet. 1993.


Homer and Marge are discussing Bart’s reaction to Homer’s forgetting to pick him up:
Marge: He said you were a bad father!
Homer: Marge. When kids these days say ‘bad’, they mean ‘good’! And to ‘shake your booty’ means to wiggle one’s butt! Allow me to demonstrate!

Adjectival vs participial -ed:

Homer is telling his underprivileged ‘little brother’ about the constellations (which he has just made up).
Pepe: Oh, Papa Homer! You are so learnèd!
Homer: ‘Learned’, son! It’s pronounced ‘learned’!

Goo Goo Gai Pan. 2005.

Headedness in compounds:

Burns (taking a driving test from Selma, who’s having hot flashes and mood swings): Good heavens! She’s some sort of female madman!

Archaisms (including what I think is a faux-archaic adjectival -ed):

Selma opens the roof.
Burns: Stop that, you wantwit! I might get stung by a bumbled bee!

Interpretation of sentence fragments:

Bart tries to warn Milhouse, whose shirt is over his eyes after a hockey fight with Bart, of an oncoming vehicle.
Bart: Car!
Milhouse: Car what? Car’s the subject, but I don’t know the verb!

They Saved Lisa’s Brain. 1999.

Snowclones, irregular plurals, register & hypercorrection:

Lisa: (writing a letter to the editor) We are a town of low-brows, no-brows, and ignorami.

Amibiguity of 'get':

Homer: Look! I got runner-up prize!
Lisa: You won second place?
Homer: No, but I got it!

Expletive pronominals? Idioms?

The Sprinfield Mensa club and Lenny and pals have booked the same gazebo.

Skinner: Excuse me, gentlemen, might I take a peek at your gazebo reservation form?
Lenny: Beat it!
Skinner: Yes, well, we each have a good case.
Karl: What part of ‘Beat it!’ didn’t you understand?
Skinner: Mmmm, I guess it would be the ‘it’; I’m not exactly sure to what that refers…. It’s a—(beer can clobbers him)


Mensa town steering committee meeting: Linsey Naigle, guest star (re the question of whether to build a Balinese or Thai shadow puppet theater): Why not both? Then everybody’s happy.
Comic book guy (sarcastically): Oh yeah. Everyone’s REAL happy then.
Linsey: Do I detect a note of sarcasm?
Professor Frink: (twiddling dials on a flashing lights machine labeled ‘Sarcasm detector’): Are you kidding me? This baby is off the charts!
Comic book guy (extremely sarcastically): A SARcasm detector! That’s a REALly useful invention!
(Sarcasm detector overheats and explodes).

Euphemism, idioms:

Principal Skinner: We have some new rules and regulations that you’re just gonna go ape-poopy over!

Treehouse of horror IX. 1998. Terror of Tiny Toon

Garden path:

Krusty reading cue cards, dressed as Dracula, says, “Tonight, I’m going to suck! … Your blood!”

Superlative -est affixation:

Then Krusty says, Get ready for the violentest, disembowelingest, vomit-inducingest Itchy and Scratchy Halloween Special ever!!

Treehouse of Horror II. 1991.

Nonce locatum verbs (productivity of verbing words):

Homer brushes aside the warnings of the strange old Moroccan market salesman about the wish-granting monkey paw he wants to buy. “Paw me!” he says. (Cf, “Fugu me”, from later.)

Treehouse of Horror XV. 2004.

Redundancy, deadjectival verb formation:

Prof Frink (before shrinking an inner spaceship with the Simpsons inside): Let the commencement beginulate!

Bart’s Friend Falls in Love. 1992.

Canadian raising:

Bart has ratted out Milhouse and Samantha, whose father has put her in a Roman Catholic all-girl’s school. Feeling bad, he and M. go to visit.:
Bart: Hey, Samantha, I'm sorry about getting you thrown in the
penguin house.
Samantha: That's all right, Bart. I love Saint Sebastian.
It's run by a group of French-Canadian nuns.
They're very nice, except they never let me oot.
(French singing)


Also in this episode: Homer accidentally gets a subliminal improve-your-vocabulary tape, and temporarily talks in extremely high-register vocab, which no one understands. In the end credits he gives a vocabulary lesson on some of the words he’s used in the episode (Homer sez, Increase your wordiness!):

Satiety: belt-popping fullness
Triumvirate: Three guys giving orders
Gourmand: like a gourmet, only fatter.
Machiavellian: I don’t know
Boudoir: Where a French guy does it.

The Boy Who Knew Too Much. 1994.

Register, legalese, semantics of logical operators

Homer is on jury duty hearing the case of Mayor Quimby’s son, who allegedly assaulted a French waiter for mispronouncing ‘chowder’. ("Say CHOWDAH!!") Homer’s reading the jury instructions.

H. What does ‘sequestered’ mean?
Princ. Sk. If the jury is deadlocked they’re put up in a hotel together so they can’t communicate with the outside world.
H: What does ‘deadlocked’ mean?
P. Sk. It’s when the jury can’t agree on a verdict.
H.: Uh-huh. And ‘if’?
P. Sk. A conjunction meaning ‘in the event that’ or ‘on condition that’.
H: So IIIIF we don’t all vote the same way, we’ll be DEAAAADlocked, and have to be seQUESStered in the Springfield Palace Hotel.

Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky. 2003.


Kent Brockman: Look out Matthew Modine and Charlene Tilton — There are new stars in town! SKY stars!

Gump Roast. 2002. (DABF12 / SI-1312), 21 Apr 2002.

Derivational morphology:

Mr. Burns, trying to convince the town that Homer is a menace, says, “Just look at all of this catastrophic nincompoopery.”

Context-dependent reference of tense (cf. Partee 1973 example: “I didn’t turn off the stove!”)

Marge and Homer getting into bed:

M: Did you close the gate?
H: Yeah.
Through the open window comes the sound of the gate slamming in the wind. Marge looks at Homer. Homer looks fake-surprised and says,
H: Oh, you mean tonight!

The Way We Weren’t. 2004. #FABF13 / SI-1513

Ambiguity of ‘get’:

Opening sequence: Bart is sitting on the lawn watching Milhouse and Ralph rake leaves for him, à la Tom Sawyer. They wonder why they’re doing it. Bart says, “The first one to finish gets a lemonade,…” they brighten up immediately. “…for me.” they sag in dissapointment.

Milhouse of Sand and Fog. 2005.


Marge (to Homer): You don’t trust me? After I salved every chicken pock on your ungrateful body?!

Bart: Does this mean that you and Dad might get a d-a-v-u-r-s?

Treehouse of Horror XI. 2000.

Brain damage and language production:

Homer’s had a horoscope that predicts he will die. Every time he evades another close call with the Grim Reaper, he says, “Stupid horoscope!” Driving to work, a pickax comes flying through the air and lodges in his forehead. Homer says, “"Flupid bloroplope!”

Animal language:

Dolphins are striking back! They concoct an elaborate plan to conquer humans in whistle-speak, subtitled for our viewing pleasure. Later, King Snorky addresses humans in English, beginning in squeaky Tarzan-speak and then switching to an eloquent baritone.

The Brother From Another Series. 1997.

Semantics of comparative construction:

Lisa: Face it Bart! Sideshow Bob has changed!
Bart: No he hasn't! He's more the same than ever!

Treehouse of Horror I. 1990.

Causative verb formation, derivational morphology, object-experiencer psych-verbs:

Bart: “Here’s a story that’s really scarifying!”

Mommy Beerest! 2005.

Infrequent vocabulary, prescriptivism, language change:

Lisa observes that Marge has been spending more time at Moe’s than Homer has.
Homer: Just what are you inferring?
Lisa: I’m not inferring anything! You 'infer', I 'imply'!
Homer: What a relief!

The Seven-Beer Snitch. 2005.

Idioms, figurative vs. literal speech:

Kent Brockman: We’ve all heard of a laugh riot, but a prison riot?

Derivational morphology:

Burns: I need more cons in my dungeonarium

Scenes From the Class Struggle in Springfield. 3F11, Feb 1996

Class-specific accents, multisyllabic names?

Names of all the country club ladies are stressed on the last syllable: Evelyn: Karin, GilliAN, ElyzaBETH, PatriciA, RauberTA, SuSAN, meet Marge.


(After country club lady obliquely insults Marge with a pun on ‘suit’). "Oh don't worry, Marge. Her idea of wit is nothing more than an incisive observation, humorously phrased and delivered with impeccable timing."

Sweets and Sour Marge. 2002.


Garth Motherloving: I'm not up on the current slang, but do the kids still say, "Get the hell out of my office."?

Lisa Gets an A. 1998.


Ralph: Hi Super Nintendo Chalmers!

When You Dish Upon a Star. 1998.

Deontic vs. epistemic readings of modals (also see the comments section below for another good one of these):

Man: Uh, sir, you can't operate a boat under the influence of alcohol.
Homer: That sounds like a wager to me!

Simpson Tide. 1998.


Homer: correcting a superior officer on his submarine: Nu-cu-lar. It's pronounced nu-cu-lar.

Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment. 1997.

Phonological rules of diddily-insertion (See

Rex Banner: Are you the Beer Baron?
Ned: Well, if you're talking about root beer, I plead guilt-diddily-ildly as char-didily-arged! (iltily?)
Rex Banner: He's not the Baron, but he sounds drunk. Take him in.

HOMR. 2001.

Contrastive focus & cran-morphs?

Homer: I have a great way to solve our money woes. You rent your
womb to a rich childless couple. If you agree, signify by getting indignant.
Marge: Are you crazy? I'm not going to be a surrogate mother.
Homer: C'mon, Marge, we're a team. It's uter-US, not uter-YOU.
Marge: Forget it!

One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish. 1991.

Location/locatum denominal verbs:

Homer (ordering blowfish): C'mon pal! Fugu me!

The Way We Was. 1991.

Origins of English

Homer: English? Who needs that? I'm never going to England.

A Star is Burns. 1995.

Idiom interpretation:

Homer: My ears are burning.
Lisa: I wasn't talking about you, Dad.
Homer: No, my ears are really burning. I wanted to see inside, so I lit a Q-tip.

The Computer Wore Menace Shoes. 2000.

Same idiom:

Homer: Now (talks into mouse) Computer, kill Flanders.
Flanders: Did I hear my name? My ears are burning.
Homer to computer: Good start. Now finish the job.

Lisa’s Date With Destiny. 1996.

Broadening, pejoration:

Kearney: Aw, man! You just kissed a girl!
Jimbo Jones: That is so gay!

The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show. 1997.

Phonological coolth, buzzwords:

Network Executive: We at the network want a dog with attitude. He's edgy. You've heard the expression "Let's get busy"? Well, this is a dog who gets biz-zay; consistently and thoroughly.
Krusty: So he's proactive?
Executive: Oh, God yes! We're talking about a totally outrageous paradigm.
Writer: Excuse me, but "proactive" and "paradigm"? Aren't those just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I'm accusing you of anything like that... I'm fired aren't I?

El Viaje de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer). 1997.

Speech errors:

Homer: I hope I didn't brain my damage.

Marge Simpson in Screaming Yellow Honkers. 1999.

Meaning change:

Bart: I didn't think this was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.

...and the final word, from the same episode:

Bart writing on the blackboard: ‘GRAMMAR IS NOT A TIME OF WASTE’

Monday, March 13, 2006

Armory Park Utterology

Something I've been meaning to mention for a while now -- my phonologically-oriented colleague Adam P. Ussishkin has started up a blog, Armory Park Utterologist. Its topics range from the future of his Tucson neighborhood, Armory Park, to the future of phonology. (Hmm -- very futur-y topics, I now notice -- and when you google 'Utterologist', google wonders if you meant 'Futurologist' -- Coincidence? or conspiracy?)

Anyway, in his 'future of phonology' post he reports having constructed a (lexical) neighborhood-density calculator for Hebrew. Very cool!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Notes from the catbird seat

a) So I won the game of scrabble I was playing when I started wondering about letter distributions. It was a game of Super-Scrabble, actually—quadruple word scores! 200 letters! Four blank tiles! I feel they should have named it ExTREME Scrabble, so that it could augment our collection of Extreme products. ('Extreme' has become the new 'New!' in the last five years or so -- how long will that last, do you suppose? Our favorite Extreme packages in our collection so far are the 'Extreme Vanilla Ice Cream', and the 'Extreme Pastel Gel Pens'.) Anyway, Super Scrabble is fun, especially if you've been playing a lot of regular scrabble; it feels like you have lots of room to roam by comparison.

b) Check out Lance's further notes on letters at the end of words in the comments on the previous post; it does seem like the big 's' count in the lexicon he used (the Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary) is due to the inclusion of all the plural forms. Interesting observations about the letters which are most likely to be addable-on to the ends of words -- 'y', of course, and, surprisingly, 'o'.

c) I've had occasion to make another letter distribution observation lately, as I've just moved offices and have been unpacking my books onto my new bookshelves. I think linguists have an unusual tendency to have names beginning with 'b' and 'c' -- or at least, I have a tendency to buy books by linguists whose names begin with 'b' and 'c'. I keep having to make more room in that section of the bookshelves. I thought I'd had it all planned out with adequate space allotted for each letter, but now I'm back into the stupid move-all-the-books-one-shelf-on procedure... drat! Hey, Lance -- want to do a comparison of the percentages of initial letters of surnames of members of the LSA with the percentage of initial letters of surnames in, say, the NY phone book? (No, no, I don't mean it. Do your work! :) )

d) The Advanced Search capability on ODIN has been activated -- now you can actually access the searchability functions I was talking about a while ago. I have already had a look at all the examples of questions in Yaqui that the spider has found, and multiple wh-questions in Itza and Malagasy. Sadly it hung up when trying to show me examples of counterfactuals; probably counterfactuals blow its little electronic brain.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Scrabble's letter distributions: Art or science?

Thanks to Lance's python wizardry, we now have lexicon-based letter distribution counts! (See his comment to the previous post.) Interestingly, comparing the lexicon and corpus-based counts side by side with the Scrabble counts, some odd discrepancies appear.

Here's some bar charts summarizing the results. The leftmost (blue) bar represents Lance's lexicon letter counts. The center (red) bar represents the corpus letter counts. And the rightmost (yellow) bar represents the Scrabble tile distribution (as if it's out of 100, though it ought to be 98, because of the two blank tiles).


There are a few differences between the corpus and lexicon counts. As Lance notes, the letter 'h' occurs in the corpus way more frequently than it does in the lexicon (the, he, her, their, those, them,...). The letter 't' as well, is more frequent in the corpus than the lexicon. Weirdly, the letter 's' is underrepresented in the corpus compared to the lexicon; I wonder if the headword list Lance chose included plurals of all the nouns?

What's interesting is that the Scrabble tile distribution matches lexicon frequency in some cases of discrepancy, corpus frequency in other cases, and neither in a couple of cases. This seems like a possibly odd result, given that the Scrabble letter distribution was supposed to have originally been based on a corpus count consisting of NYT front pages. Either the front pages on the days in question had some exceptional trends in letter usage (see below) or the creator of Scrabble, Alfred Mosher Butts, adjusted some frequencies based on his intuitions about what would make the game go better.

Of course, for letters whose frequency is less than 1%, Scrabble has a higher distribution because you can't have a letter with less than one tile. So 'q', for instance, is overrepresented in Scrabble, of necessity.

Other variations, though, seem to be more a matter of intuitive game-play facilitation. 'S', for instance, is less frequent in Scrabble than in either the lexicon or corpus -- obviously 's' makes high-scoring hooks easy, increasing its value as a letter, and Alfred foresaw this and deliberately made them scarcer. On the other hand, there's twice as many 'v's as there ought to be, as anyone who's tried to find a good way to use one knows (there are no two letter words with 'v' in them -- hard to hook). On the mitigating side, there's fewer 'c's than there ought to be, at least comparing to the lexicon distribution; ought to be 3, but there's only 2 'c' tiles. Since there's also no legal two letter words with 'c', that's kind of nice. I find it hard to imagine that Alfred was thinking about the availability of two-letter words, though maybe he was. Elsewhere, there's too many 'i's, compared to the lexicon count, and too many 'o's, but two few 'l's. In the latter two cases the corpus and Scrabble counts match pretty well, but he must just have been being perverse about the 'i's, because there the extra-high Scrabble count matches neither the lexicon nor the corpus count. (It does often feel like there are too many 'i's, IMHO.)

Anyway, thanks to Lance for pulling this data out! I think it's interesting how the two counts are actually not all that different. In the phonological version of this, of course, the edh segment would be the one with the way high count compared to the lexicon (rather than 'h' or 't' -- though maybe /h/ would also be high because of the pronouns). I wonder if any others would also exhibit significant mismatch?

Update: Check out this series of posts on the same topic at Nikolasco:
Scrabble Distributions
Best Fit Scrabble Letter Distribution
Super Scrabble

I was especially interested to see the results of his 'Best Fit' computations, and the discussion of Super Scrabble (which I have found to be actually quite a lot of fun—a more freewheeling game, especially with four players.)

Also, check out this post from Patrick Hall on Blogamundo about helping linguists execute their programming inclinations. Thanks for the thought, Patrick! I'll be watching for the updates.