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Those stats would be even more interesting in a phonemic orthography.
 English has 20+ vowels, but only 5 vowel letters. German, French and Danish
are also vowel-rich, while Spanish and Hawaiian are relatively poor at 5
each.

On Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 3:52 PM, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 2:56 PM, Peter Cyrus <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Well, that's the principle of abjads : when there are few vowels (and
> > they're grammatical, not lexical) then they can be omitted.  But try
> writing
> > a Chinese sentence in pinyin without vowels.  It only works in English
> > because our spelling is not phonemic.
>
> Probably because vowels are much more important to Chinese than they
> are to English. In English we reduce most spoke vowels to schwa
> anyway.
>
> It's interesting that if all vowels are replaced with some neutral
> character like hyphen, 93.8% of English words remain unique. (Even
> short words like -n-q-- which even though it is a subset of
> "technique" and "unequal" remains uniquely "unique")
>
> Even Spanish still has 76.7% of the words retaining their uniqueness
> without vowels, and Italian virtually ties Spanish with 77.8%
> remaining unique without vowels. Clearly Hawaiian (which I haven't
> done the statistics on because I don't have a large enough Hawaiian
> corpus in computer-readable form) would score much lower, probably
> loosing the uniqueness of half or more of its words with vowels
> obliterated.
>
> So some languages might be more difficult to read without vowels. I
> should collect the stats for German next. I suspect it might score up
> nearer to English than to Spanish and Italian.
>
> --gary
>