My usual subjects are in short supply these days. The libraries are closed, so I can’t get any new books. Baseball is shut down, so there’s nothing there to talk about. Politics is too depressing.
What’s this blogger to do?
A while back I started wondering about my style of writing. Am I too wordy, too complex, or too simple? I found that there are a bunch of “text analyzer tools” out there online, so I figured I’d run a few posts through one of those and see what came out.
Yes, I’m bored.
I went with the one at UsingEnglish.com, since it does a lot more than simply count words. It also computes word difficulty (based on syllables) and something called the “Gunning Fog Index”, which is intended to derive a “readability” number for the text. That index correlates roughly to the grade level of education needed to readily understand the text. A GFI of 12, for example, means a high school senior ought to have no trouble with the text.
When I started, I figured I’d pick out about a dozen posts. That ought to be enough, right? But I got carried away (I was enjoying reading what I had written), and wound up with an even three dozen. What the heck, I understand that statisticians say you need a sample size of thirty to get a very good sense of the characteristics of the whole population.
I chose them at random – mostly. Six from each year of blogging, and I deliberately excluded those posts that were unusually short, anything to do with Christmas or Halloween, and those that were little more than lists.
Here’s what came out:
Number of Words: 704
Unique Words: 339
Words per Sentence: 22.5
There was a good deal of variation here, due to the variation in post length. I can be pretty wordy when the muse strikes.
Hard Word Percentage: 11.6%
Long Word Percentage: 19.2%
The analyzer defined a “hard” word as one with three or more syllables, and no hyphens, and a “long” word as one with six or more letters. I don’t know if proper names, plurals, and verb forms (verbs that just end in “-ing” or “-ed”) were included,
Lexical Density: 0.50
A simple ratio of “Unique Words” to “Total Words”.
Gunning Fog Index: 13.6
That’s college-level writing. Well, since I did graduate from college and even spent some time in grad school, it shouldn’t be surprising.
If I ever get really, really, REALLY bored – or if someone paid me to do it, I might go through my entire body of posts to find the ones with highest and lowest scores.
But don’t hold your breath.
And no, I’m not going to run this essay through the analyzer……