Subtlex-pl: subtitle-based word frequency estimates for Polish


We present SUBTLEX-PL, Polish word frequencies based on movie subtitles. In two lexical decision experiments, we compare the new measures with frequency estimates derived from another Polish text corpus that includes predominantly written materials. We show that the frequencies derived from the two corpora perform best in predicting human performance in a lexical decision task if used in a complementary way. Our results suggest that the two corpora may have unequal potential for explaining human performance for words in different frequency ranges and that corpora based on written materials severely overestimate frequencies for formal words. We discuss some of the implications of these findings for future studies comparing different frequency estimates. In addition to frequencies for word forms, SUBTLEX-PL includes measures of contextual diversity, part-of-speech-specific word frequencies, frequencies of associated lemmas, and word bigrams, providing researchers with necessary tools for conducting psycholinguistic research in Polish. The database is freely available for research purposes and may be downloaded from the authors’ university Web site at

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  1. 1.

    \( {z}_i={ \log}_{10}\left(\frac{c_i+1}{{\displaystyle \sum_{k=1}^n{c}_k+ n}}\right)+9 \) (van Heuven, Mandera, Keuleers & Brysbaert 2014) Where z i is a Zipf value for word i, c i is its raw frequency, and n is the size of the vocabulary.

  2. 2.

    For mapping between original and simplified tags, see supplementary materials.

  3. 3.

    A nonfinal version of SUBTLEX-PL, based on nearly 50 million tokens, was used when choosing stimuli for the experiment.

  4. 4.

    As an example, consider a list of 200,000 words and a list of 400,000 words. A typical characteristic of word frequency distributions is that about half of the words in each list will have a frequency of one. In that case, the base probability that any word found in both lists would have a frequency of 1 in the first list would be 1/100,000, while it would be 1/200,000 for the second list.

  5. 5.

    For practical reasons, we assume that lemma is equivalent to a concatenation of a base form of a word and an associated part of speech tag.


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This study was supported by an Odysseus grant awarded by the Government of Flanders to M.B. and a subsidy from the Foundation for Polish Science (FOCUS program) awarded to Z.W. We thank Jon Andoni Duñabeitia, Gregory Francis, and an anonymous reviewer for insightful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript, Adam Przepiórkowski for providing access to the BS–NCP word frequencies, and Jakub Szewczyk for his help with syllabification of Polish words.

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Correspondence to Paweł Mandera.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.


• Word frequency files • Lemma master files • Word bigram frequencies • Mappings between original TaKIPI tagset and simplified tagset used in frequency norms (ZIP 363389 kb)

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Mandera, P., Keuleers, E., Wodniecka, Z. et al. Subtlex-pl: subtitle-based word frequency estimates for Polish. Behav Res 47, 471–483 (2015).

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  • Word frequencies
  • Polish language
  • Lexical decision
  • Visual word recognition