Monday, August 16, 2004
The site describes itself as "an artistic experiment in the way we use language."
It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonality. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance. The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is.
WordCount data currently comes from the British National Corpus®, a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent an accurate cross-section of current English usage. WordCount includes all words that occur at least twice in the BNC®. In the future, WordCount will be modified to track word usage within any desired text, website, and eventually the entire Internet.
My father had a favorite word, festoon, which I have adopted in his fond memory. Today, festoon is ranked 61,252, following "beaufighters" but, remarkably, preceding "poetess."
And yes, I checked for the "f" word. It's ranked 5598, right between "charming" and "workshops." It kinda restores my faith in the world that "charming" manages to slip in as slightly more common than "f*ck."
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