When a text is translated does the complexity of its vocabulary change? Translations and target readerships

Hênio Henrique Aragão Rêgo, Lidia A. Braunstein, Gregorio D'Agostino, H. Eugene Stanley, Sasuke Miyazima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


In linguistic studies, the academic level of the vocabulary in a text can be described in terms of statistical physics by using a ''temperature'' concept related to the text's word-frequency distribution. We propose a ''comparative thermo-linguistic'' technique to analyze the vocabulary of a text to determine its academic level and its target readership in any given language. We apply this technique to a large number of books by several authors and examine how the vocabulary of a text changes when it is translated from one language to another. Unlike the uniform results produced using the Zipf law, using our ''word energy'' distribution technique we find variations in the power-law behavior. We also examine some common features that span across languages and identify some intriguing questions concerning how to determine when a text is suitable for its intended readership. Copyright:
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere110213
Pages (from-to)-
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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