Tuesday, September 22

hapax legomena

I watched this latest vsauce video last week. it's full of numbers and words, fractions and graphs and corpuses of text. vsauce videos are always interesting, but this one was particularly full of things that made me think of other cool things.

it is neat to see that Jonathan Harris's wordcount still exists. not much from nine whole years ago looks the same in this internet place. nine years is a long time. but "plaid subdue glinted zoology" is still what shows up when you search for plaid. I thought for a minute that "zoology" would surely have been a hapax legomenon on this blog here, at least until today. but it actually shows up here, too.

what the hapax legomena of this blog are, I don't know. are there any? there must be. or do I talk too much about all the same stuff?

with this video, Michael from vsauce has ruined forever the hapax legomenon-ality of the quirky little adverb "quizzaciously." there is a whole sub-reddit about it. and www.quizzaciously.com is a website now.


people do some pretty fun things with this internet stuff. I wonder what the chances of getting a grammatical sentence out of twenty random common English words is. quizzaciously.com has given me none so far. but maybe if you add some punctuation to them, it would help.

"an by look on, get even; some have--about no... at could--than when an what a say have." maybe?

someday it could be neat to ask students to write an essay using only some number of the most common words in English. I once pondered teaching a writing class using Mark Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea. I'll plan for it next year, perhaps, when I get back to English 106. I've never taught using fiction before, but I think I'd like to. it'd be different. and different is fun. Ella Minnow Pea is an adorable example of not only how ideologies have huge consequences on how decisions get made, but also of how limits are always possibilities.

just look at that Randall Munroe guy. he's writing a book to explain stuff. it's one of the first thoughts I had upon watching the latest vsauce. words and numbers and complexity and commonness. Munroe wrote a blog post introducing the project here. I wonder how the translators will handle this project. will they be bound to using the ten hundred most common words in whatever language they're translating into? I would assume so. how tricky.


Janeheiress said...

I use the same words over and over. I'm pretty sure there are none in my blog. Also, I know I've heard the term before, but I never knew what hapax legomena meant. Fascinating

amelia chesley said...

but all the statistics say there must be at least a few, even if they are weird names or titles or locations or something. hard to think of them to search for though....