Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Word Counts, Revisited

I take back what I said about words in the previous post. Sort of.

Words count. But so does counting words.

Dr. James W. Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, counts words and analyzes what the array of our words and their number say about us, whether we are lying, what our motives are, whether our relationships are changing, other patterns, et cetera, ad infinitum.

When I was an English teacher, I loathed when students would pencil in their running tally of words in their assigned writing. They'd pencil in pesky little numerals above their text -- text that usually consisted of What The Teacher Wants To Hear. Yawn. And I told them I loathed that practice because they were paying more attention to the number of words than the content of the words. They'd say, "Mr. K, how long does the assignment have to be?"

"I don't know; as long as it's good," and they'd howl.

Who knew the kids were inadvertently on to something?

Click on the link here for the article in today's Science Times; fascinating.

Plus, check out Wordwatchers, Dr. Pennebaker's intriguing website that provides dispassionate and sober critiques comparing word use by, yes, of course, McCain and Obama (and the other candidates).

So, now, this blog has explored the linguistic gamut, From Um to Eternity.

1 comment:

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

That's a very long way.

You are still a good teacher.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore