This project fulfills a small part of the requirement for a Master of Arts degree in  Language and Literature from Signum University.

I’m Laurie Frances (Sparrow) Alden, sharing this adventure with you from the wilds of New Hampshire, USA.

Our text:

Tolkien, J.R.R. (2012-02-15). The Hobbit: 75th Anniversary Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Our tools:

As of September 2017, you will no longer see ads on this site; please let me know if one creeps on there other than the “powered by wordpress” tag line.  When you click on a tag, make sure you have JavaScript enabled in order to see all the pages of entries relevant to that tag!

Ways to enjoy this project:

  • to walk in the forest of words, head straight to the Concordance and click on any word which strikes your fancy.  As of July, 2015, about a quarter of the words have bonus content such as usage or etymology notes from the Oxford English Dictionary, patterns of word use from Google’s Ngram viewer, scholarly questions, recipes, comments, or conversation with Word Fans.
  • as a journey, begin with the very first blog post and click along chronologically.  Share the challenges and solutions as they cropped up and observe the meritorious effects of a good night’s sleep on more than one occasion.  As I entered words into the concordance, you’ll see that sometimes I did “an alphabet run” and sometimes just finished up all the entires for one letter (notably Z and Q).
  • to read as though it were a journal article, click through to those entries tagged Introduction, Discussion, Method, Results, and Conclusions.  They are not written to string together into a formal presentation. These are blog posts, and I sat down to write each one as though you and I had put the kettle on and were having a nice chat.  Click the 1937 tag for a fascinating exploration of differences between the 1937 and 1951 edtions.
  • for mini-explorations,  I did several words in a row of the same type.  Here you can click straight to the A-words or the BE-words  or the Over-words.
  • I have invited fellow scholars to link their work here, please enjoy the scholar tag!
  • try the archaic tag to find those words labeled archaic, obsolete, or rare by the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • in the mood for sound-play?  The onomatopoeia tag will lead you to all the words which tickle our ears and a few wonderings about why they might be so numerous in this work.
  • Looking for a good recipe or have one to share?  The food tag is another mini-exploration, this time less scholarly and more gustatory!  All food entries and posts about food can be found in a Food Mini-Concordance.
  • I’ve been doing some follow up work on hyphens, and have gathered all the concordance entries and posts on the topic of hyphens into a Hyphen Mini-Concordance.
  • to find the very least frequent words, check out the tag 100K, which includes those words plus an explanation of how and why we found them.
  • best of all possible words, enjoy the gem tag, indicating those words which surprised me with their multiple meanings, their subtlety, their elegant playfulness.  I reserved this tag for those words which made my eyes mist over as I discovered their complexity and beauty.
  • Update 2017, we now have a Food Mini-Concordance for our friends in Signum University’s Tolkien in Context course.

Thank you:

  • Corey Olsen, president of Signum University and my thesis advisor.
  • Robin Reid, for advice on fair use and assistance with using the text.
  • John Rateliff, for assistance with the 1937 text.
  • Doug Anderson, for advice on paragraph enumeration
  • Daroc Alden, Tech Support: coder and data-moosher.
  • Grace Alden, my wife.

3 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Sparrow,
    My name is Lynn Eldon-Munro and I participate in Mythgard/Signum on an informal basis. At Mythmoot III last year I saw Dave Kale’s presentation on data analysis of words in the Hobbit and was fascinated.
    Due to a Saturday Calculus class, I was unable to listen in on the day you both gave this presentation. I finally had the chance to watch and I am amazed at the work you have done. I just wanted to say thank you for the work you have done, the blog that lays it all out and the provision of the Python scripts. And the bonus is that you are a fellow Unitarian Universalist!
    I am currently taking prerequisite courses for a Masters in Data Analytics program, and am also teaching myself Python. Please thank your son on my behalf for creating the scripts. I look forward to using them as a means to see a practical end to what I am learning.
    I wish you all the best going forward in this project and in all your endeavors.
    Best regards,
    Lynn E. Elder-Munro


  2. I am absolutely delighted to have found your site and the Concordance. The true value of your work is well beyond what I imagined possible. I look forward to spending many hours reading through your work and
    sharing your fascinating insights.


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