1951: How do sound words contribute?

Remember the 1951-new paragraphs?  The mountains of uncommon words in bright red above the valleys of pale red?  They are marked by the phrases “Show the nasty little Baggins the way out”, “Curse us and crush us, my precious is lost!”, and “To the back door, that’s it.”


Got them spotted?  OK.  I’m going to take out the pale red 1937 line and put in the 1951 purple sound line.  Ready?

1951.05.UnCo& Sound

Great elephants!  In 1937, the sound words dropped to about a third of the Riddle-Game-climax peak for the remainder of the chapter.  Not so in 1951!

The sound words are not just frequent, they’re punching higher in frequency than they did before, and we see from the shapes of the graphs that the sound words drive the frequency of uncommon words.  These sections – approximately paragraphs [05.080] to [05.132] – are the ones Tolkien added to tie this text forward to The Lord of the Rings as he was writing and discovering that longer, more complex work.

We’ve already listed the words which appeared in the 1951-only paragraphs but not the 1937-only paragraphs and vice versa; that would measure whether the new paragraphs were formed out of the words of the retiring paragraphs.  There is another way to look at those unique-paragraph words, of course – to compare the new paragraphs of 1951 to the entire 1937 chapter.  I’m pleased to report that list is almost the same as the previous.

Almost all of the new words, naturally, occur from paragraph 80 to 132.  Here they are – the completely new uncommon words from 1951.

  • Words we tagged as sound words (tagged by the OED, or from Gollum’s idiolect, or Gollum’s name and characteristic throat noise): cracking creepsy eyeses goblinses Gollum hates gurgling hissing  losst screech shriek smells sniffed squeaked squeaker ssss tricksy
  • other uncommon words (note how many begin with S): back-door  betterment birthday-present blindly blood-curdling bowstring brooded  crawling  crouched  dursn’t flattened  forefinger  galled  gleamed  gnaw  goblin-imp  groping  hiding-place  humped  leapt  maddened  menacing  menacingly  mouse noser nosey oddments  paddling  palely   panted  peered  pricked  quicker shambling sharpened sharper sheathed shiver side-passages snag  sneaking softer splayed squeezes  stab stiffened swayed tripping  tense tunnel-wall  unlost unmarked

footnote: The scales are the same as last post’s graph lines – the red uncommon words line is on the 0.00 to 0.16 scale as shown and the purple sound line is on 0.00 to 0.09.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s