So now I can talk about the reason why I cared what the top 50 words in the English Language are (at least by looking at word frequency from various Project Gutenberg free books): WordPong on the Apple App Store.
The reason for the frequency is simple: in order to create a computer slider that goes from easy to hard game play, one thing I needed was a sorted dictionary of words, with the most often used words at the top of the list. Word frequency here is used as a proxy for word complexity: the more often a word is used, the more likely it will be familiar to younger members of the WordPong audience. And while I also use other parameter tweaks in order to simplify computer game play (such as how fast letters are picked by the computer and how likely the computer is to randomly flick a letter), word difficulty is one major aspect of the game.
It works quite well, by the way: at the first level the computer player limits itself to just the top 150 words in my sorted dictionary. At a middle level it’s restricted to the top thousand or so words: the theory being that the words should be almost instantly recognizable by the human player.