Well, this is an adventure, and I’m tickled pink to be on it!
Now that I have more accurately eliminated The Ten Thousand most common words in Project Gutenberg, I’m ready to report to my fellow Word Fans. I love the fact that our source material is the corpus of older written English – out-of-copyright works which include much of the literature which Tolkien himself knew, like William Morris and Lewis Carroll. The previous list included current written work, and from looking at the word lists I suspected that newspapers and magazines had a proportion of influence which was not quite what we were looking for.
Of the 96,152 words of The Hobbit, 7212 of them are uncommon! That’s about 7.5% of the book, including names of things (like “Bilbo”) as well as plain words (like “wobble”). In English, most writers use uncommon words less than 5% of the time (reports vary from 2.5 to just under 5%).
These 7172 are made of about a thousand individual words plus about 75 names. I have returned to the beginning of this blog and updated the numbers so that new Word Fans are not led astray be contradicting reports.