Introduction

In this corpus study, I look at modification patterns of two nouns in German: “Auto” ‘car’ and “Flugzeug” ‘airplane’. In particular, I would like to suggest to relate the frequencies of different classes of adjectival modifiers of these nouns to the psychological notions of Conceptual Distinctiveness (how many obvious subcategories there are to a concept), object frequency in typical visual input, and recognition performance in picture matching tasks I calculate the entropies for the distribution of adjectival modification of the two nouns in the DWDS core corpus (https://www.dwds.de/r). High entropy of the modification distribution is a good predictor for high distinctiveness and high object frequency in visual data for the concept related to the noun modified (many, even overlapping subcategories are available for the concept representing “Auto” ‘car’, wooden cars, blue cars, big cars etc.). Low distinctiveness might be related to what is called ‘well-establishedness of a kind’ in linguistics.

Cars might have high object frequency and are easily subcategorized with respect to many features. They are conceptually highly distinctive.