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by Peter Moskos

December 31, 2010

Word Frequency

I'm ran the latest draft of my book through a word-frequency count. 47 uses of "simply"?! That's simply too many, and I got that down to 11 (mostly just by deleting them--it's interesting how often "simply" simply isn't needed). Now I'm working on "certainly," "of course," and "actually." It's very easy to fall on such linguistic crutches when you're writing.

So the total number of different words in my new book is about 4,900 (out of 30,000 words).

I don't know why I find that interesting. I also wondered if it's a lot or a little.

Turns out I'm not the only one curious about such matter (oh, the world wide webs, how magic you are!).

Zachary Booth Simpson was all over this, ten years ago.

Compared to most books, I don't use many words at all (that's good news for my friend, Gotti).

Moby Dick uses 17,227 different words. But Moby Dick is long. And my book is short. It turns out that for books of my length, my vocabulary seems perfectly respectable.

Thanks, Zach!


Gotti Rules said...

You have way too much time on your hands to think of this crap. Thanks for letting me know how many words there are in your book, otherwise I wouldn't have Mrs. Gotti read it to me.

Anonymous said...

English was not Melville's first language?

That's a new one on me.

PCM said...

Silly me. My mistake. Not Melville (and I corrected the blog post), I was thinking of Joseph Conrad. And Heart of Darkness uses about 5,400 different words.