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Media: New York Times: The Word Crunchers

Submitter: Karen Chung

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Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Media Body: Essay: The Word Crunchers
Published: June 5, 2005

In David Lodge's 1984 novel, 'Small World,' a literature professor fond
of computer programming presents a novelist with a fantastic discovery: by
entering all the novelist's books into a computer, the professor can
determine the novelist's favorite word. The computer knows to ignore the
mortar of sentences -- articles, prepositions, pronouns -- to get to 'the
real nitty-gritty,' Lodge writes, 'words like love or dark or heart or
God.' But the computer's conclusion causes the novelist to shrink from ever
writing again. His favorite word, it finds, is 'greasy.'...

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Karen Chung
Issue Number: 16.1771
Date Posted: June 06, 2005