Then they came to lands where people spoke strangely

I am following a little rabbit-trail, Word Fans, about dialogue and narration in the Shire.  What are the characteristics of these bits which distinguish it from all the other bits?  Won’t this be fun!

[02.028] At first they had passed through hobbit-lands, a wide respectable country inhabited by decent folk, with good roads, an inn or two, and now and then a dwarf or a farmer ambling by on business. Then they came to lands where people spoke strangely, and sang songs Bilbo had never heard before.

It would be luxurious to include all the prose about the Shire as well, but my current project has made me stare at a deadline and hmph at it.  For our purposes, then, I am counting “In the Shire” as from [01.001] to [02.028], up to but not including the words in the title of this post, plus [19.028] to the end, [19.048], inclusive.

To pass on a tantalizing bit of my thought, I’m calling “In Mirkwood” from [07.154] through [09.069], inclusive.

The plan is to use the Mirkwood text as the stopwords to look at the Shire text and vice-versa…  I wonder if I need to do this for all regions and chart their differences from the Shire?  I may have to.  If I don’t come up for air in a few days, please send chocolate.

The Shire text uses 11,119 words, of which 1484 do not appear in Mirkwood, this is counting every word used – “yes” counts as six words.  That’s 13.3% Shire words.  There are 562 words used in the Shire which are not used anywhere else in the book – 5%.  And yes, I see the logical error there and am going to – soon! – compare the Shire Text with a similarly sized sample.  If I’m lucky, Tech Support can create a “grab a random sample of text from here of size N” script.

The Mirkwood text uses 16,400 words, of which 2,400 do not appear in the Shire, and variations on “spider” account for about 60 of these.  14.6% . Nearly identical.  I do find it odd that the Mirkwood text numbers come out on an even “400” – I will chase that for a while with your indulgence, Word Fans.

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