Does anyone know the rough proportions of Latin words that fall into each of the five declensions? Which is most common? Which is least common?

  • Just to confront the data in the accepted answer with those in this Reddit thread. – MattAllegro Apr 21 at 7:38
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    @MattAllegro Those percentages seem to come from a dictionary instead of a corpus. A corpus is more descriptive of actual use, but the question didn't specify what was meant. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 21 at 17:25
  • @JoonasIlmavirta definitely true, it would just be interesting to have more sets to compare – MattAllegro Apr 21 at 17:31
  • @MattAllegro It would! I'd be happy to see more answers. It's interesting to see how different choices change the numbers. Do you want to write up an answer? – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 21 at 18:02
  • @JoonasIlmavirta I just did :) – MattAllegro Apr 21 at 20:45

According to this study, the distribution is as follows:

  • 1st declension 21.6%
  • 2nd declension 23.7%
  • 3rd declension 52.6%
  • 4th declension 1.4%
  • 5th declension 0.7%

("Development of Gender Classifications: Modeling the Historical Change from Latin to French," by Maria Polinsky and Ezra Van Everbroeck Language Vol. 79, No. 2, Jun., 2003, Table 2, pg. 362)

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    Could you also add 2003 (year) and perhaps the stable link? jstor.org/stable/4489422 – Alex B. Apr 21 at 12:22
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    I wonder if the other stats are based on frequency of occurrence. 5th declension is tiny in terms of lexis, but dies and res are pretty commonly used words. – C Monsour Apr 22 at 14:30
  • @CMonsour. According to the article, the data comes from two sources: another study, which is "The frequency of Latin words and their endings," Diederich, 1939; and a random sampling of 1500 nouns from classical Latin texts. – Expedito Bipes Apr 22 at 14:42

Difficult to verify this research but, according to this Reddit thread, the distribution over An Elementary Latin Dictionary (Lewis) would be:

  • 1st declension 19.14% (1248)
  • 2nd declension 31.28% (2039)
  • 3rd declension 45.93% (2994)
  • 4th declension 3.59% (234)
  • 5th declension 0.06% (4)
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