Arabic letter frequency
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No exact letter frequency distribution underlies a given language, since all writers write slightly differently. As a rule texts in different languages using the Arabic script (e.g. the Arabic, Old Turkish, Persian and Urdu languages) will have different letter frequencies, most obviously in the case of letters which are not used at all in a language (e.g. the Persian letters پ, چ, گ are not found in written Arabic language texts).
Methods encoding the most frequent letters with the shortest symbols were pioneered by telegraph codes, and are used in modern data-compression techniques such as Huffman coding.
What gets counted in input Arabic text?
Chiefly, the Arabic alphabet consists of 28 primary letters, these are letters 1 to 28 in Table 1. However, when scripting in Arabic, the eight modified letters listed in positions 29 to 36 in the same table are used just the same. If these 8 modified forms are lumped back into the primary list based on shape or phonetic similarity, the outcome then is as shown in Table 2. For accurate frequency analysis, each of the 36 letters of Table 1 gets its frequency counted independently. The ordering of the alphabet shown in the tables is more logical than is used by the Unicode standard.
Although the full set of Arabic characters includes about ten diacritics as shown in the Figure 1, frequency analysis of Arabic characters is only concerned with computing the frequency of alphabet letters shown in Table 2.
Sources with over five million letters
The following famous Arabic sources are used to generate an acceptable amount of data on which frequency statistics are conducted.
- The first seven volumes of the series البداية والنهاية (The Beginning and The End) of Ibn Kathir. All together, these seven volumes fill up 2,855 pages, containing 1,096,047 words, containing 4,326,031 letters.
- The book of الرحيق المختوم (The Sealed Nectar: the life of Prophet Mohammad PBBU) of Almubarakfuri. The book is spread over 284 pages, containing 134,662 words, containing 553,740 letters.
- The book of تحفة العروسين (The Masterpiece of the Brides) for Al-shuri. The book is spread over 239 pages, containing 66,550 words, containing 242,361 letters.
Collectively, these sources add up to 3,378 pages, generating 1,297,259 words, or, 5,122,132 letters. The following two figures show the letter frequency distribution for the counted letters; Figure 2 shows a histogram data sorted on Unicode value. Figure 3 shows a histogram data sorted on frequency.
Qur'an letter and word frequency statistics
Using the Qur'an as data source for Arabic letter frequency generation, the frequency distribution of letters is much in line with what's reported and exhibited in the Figures 2 and 3 above. The following list highlights statistics particular to one of the most common print editions (the recitation of Hafs through Asim) also available online.
- Number of letters is 330,709
- Number of words without repetition is 14,870
- Number of words in the entire Quran is 77,797
- Number of verses is 6,236
- The average word length in the Quran is 330,709 ÷ 77,797 = 4.25
- Ibn Kathir, Ismail (1???). The beginning and the End (in Arabic). Retrieved 23 January 2011. Check date values in:
- Almubarakfuri, Safiyyurrahman (19??). The Sealed Nectar. Retrieved 24 January 2011. Check date values in:
- Ash-shuri, Majdi (19??). Masterpiece of the Bride. Retrieved 24 January 2011. Check date values in:
- Madi, Mohsen (2010). "Comparative frequency analysis of Arabic Texts". Intellaren Articles. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
- Madi, Mohsen (2010). "Quran Suras Statistics". Intellaren Articles. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
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