Ever on!

Well, it’s been a week!  After the exhilarating presentation Monday night I had a couple of days of curling up in my hobbit-hole to do domestic chores and cuddle with my little one who is no longer small.  There were some difficulties with the audio of the recording, so we may re-record it in the near future.  If it’s possible for guests to listen in on that second edition, I’ll let you know.  Then the better recording will be made freely available, because that’s how Signum University rolls!

One of my goals is to find funding to continue this project at a professional pace – any advice is appreciated!

Meanwhile, I will proceed with small tasks, such as tagging the uncommon words with “10K” before I add any common words; I really would like to add “Luck” and “Chance” and “Fortune” and similar, which are within The Ten Thousand.  I’ll keep you apprised here on the Home page of what I’m up to!

An Update at Lexos

It looks as if the good folks at Lexos have released a small update – minor changes in the user interface and graphic rendering.  New charts which the software draws for us henceforward will look slightly different; the points on our graphs will be smaller and clearer.  The first thing I did with this new clarity was make certain that our graphs do run all the way to the end of the text.  They certainly do – that very last uptick in food words represents exactly the words “kettle” and “tobacco-jar”.

A few more food words

In the course of entering all those plain concordance entries in the last week, I spotted a small handful of food words which had previously escaped notice.  Specifically, while I had decided to include words about food, a few such as “crock” escaped the first pass.  They’re all tagged and incorporated into our analyses now.  Simply click on “food” in the tags of this post to get a list of all the food words among the uncommon words.  Graphs are updated, too!  Don’t hesitate to post a recipe or comment.

Update to the Paragraph Index

Good morning, Word Fans.  Yesterday evening I found a typo in the Paragraph Index and have since chased down all the other errors of the same type.  The new Paragraph Index is loaded on the About page, thank you for getting rid of any old copies and downloading the new one.

Of course, this means that some words have incorrect paragraph references – I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve fixed them!

Project Gutenberg Words

As you may recall, I first filtered the text using Leech, Rayson, and Wilson’s word frequencies, which had fewer than ten thousand words.  Later, I discovered the Project Gutenberg word frequency lists, created by the Wiktionary folks, not the Project Gutenberg folks, and filtered again, sure of a ten-thousand word filter.  A couple of hundred words were eliminated from our list (which had been in the 5,000 to 10,000 range), and another seventy five which would have been eliminated had already been added to the concordance, so we let those stand pat.  The Project Gutenberg lists also added the following words to our study:

cargo casket drought fever gigantic hoof itch lair loathsome necklace nibble ninepins whisk whisker wrath

These are words that the modern filter classified as common, but Project Gutenberg – the corpus of out-of-copyright work – called uncommon.  These words have risen in use over the last seventy five years.

Word Fans, is “whisker” an inflection of “whisk” or a word in its own right?  I’ll put the kettle on – let me know what you think.

Leech, Geoffrey, Paul Rayson, and Andrew Wilson. Word Frequencies in Written and Spoken English: Based on the British National Corpus. Harlow: Longman, 2001. Print.


Once upon a time, I had a fancy to hold aside the hyphenated words and do a mini-lesson on them – there are dozens and dozens, and I believe now that the most important thing is to get the concordance functional!

Update 2015.07.10: the concordance is functional, I’m publishing conclusions on my main topics, and I had time to run a graph of hyphens!

Update 2017.09.27: I’m so pleased to say we now have a Hyphen Mini-Concordance and all of the words therein have been checked against the OED to see what those venerable editors think of the hyphen.

Some Plain Concordance Entries

Word Fans, you yourselves can easily do the work of a concordance if you have an electronic copy of The Hobbit and a particular word in your head.  That’s why I have tried to jazz up the entries with some trivia, some etymology, some observations on the distribution of the particular word before we look at the distributions of grand classes of words.  What if you don’t happen to have an electronic copy?  Or what if you’d just like to stroll through the garden of lovely words and see what strikes your fancy?

My advisor, for example, looked at the Concordance page and said, “Manflesh?  I don’t recall the goblins referring to… (click).. Oh, of course!  The trolls!”  On his advice, although we are wending our way toward my finish date for the project and I won’t have time for thoughtful posts about every word, I’m going to try to make a classic brief concordance entry for each of them so you can look at the distributions.  Someday perhaps I’ll have time and encouragement to fill out these entries with thoughtful observations.

Tonight I’m going to enter all of Gollum’s sibilance words since we’ve been talking about them.  The sounds indicated by “ss” (up to five Ss) are already listed under “hiss”.

Another Proofreading Day

Today I ran through all the “Home” blog posts again for spelling, formatting, errors.  I had an inspiring and encouraging advisor meeting yesterday with The Tolkien Professor!  With all the exciting bits and pieces it’s easy to become scattered and his broad perspective helped me step back and get a better focus.  Let’s not lose sight of one very practical outcome: a working, useful concordance with helpful tidbits about each entry.

He has encouraged me to delve into our Lexos analyses – what makes that peak in uncommon words in Chapter 5?  We see it from the whole-book perspective and from the one-word-at a time perspective.  Now, can we name the classes of words which make it happen?  Our onomatopoeia words are a big driver – what else?

I’m looking forward to the journey.  For this evening, however, I think I’ve earned my cold chicken and pickles, porter, and seed-cakes.