Thursday, May 18, 2017

Number of -ly Adverbs per 10,000 words: Hemingway: 80; Austen: 128; Silicon Valley 54.45

From Marginal Revolution:
Hemingway: 80
Twain: 81
Melville: 126
Austen: 128
J.K. Rowling: 140
E L James: 155
That is from the new and interesting Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve, by Ben Blatt.  The Hemingway book with the highest usage rate for -ly adverbs, True at First Light, was released only after his death and is considered one of his worst works.  The same pattern is true for Faulkner and Steinbeck, namely that the most highly praised works have relatively low rates of -ly adverb usage.  Among other notable authors surveyed, D.H. Lawrence seems to be the most obvious exception to this regularity.

In the novel The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien used the word “she” only once.  In The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, however, she relative to he is used 79% of the time, the highest ratio of the classics surveyed.... 

I threw in the Silicon Valley number because of the introduction to 2015's "Silicon Valley Is a Big Fat Lie":
Comparing the geniuses of old Silicon Valley, for example (ca. 1993), Nvidia, "Nvidia Wants to Be the Brains Of Your Autonomous Car (NVID)", who make the chips that will go into the world's fastest supercomputer with the list of names currently on offer:
Bitly, Borkly, Barnly, Molestly, Strinkingly, Happily, Crappily, Maply, Morply, Dottly, Dootly, Godly, Angrily.
And you almost want to cry. See also after the jump....

In the linked ValleyWag (a Gawker property i.e. "It's dead Jim") piece the WSJ is quoted as saying there are 161 startups with the -ly (or variant -li) ending in their name There are actually many more but we'll use the Journal's number.
Divided into AngeList's 29,566 Silicon Valley startups and you end up with the occurrence of corporate names ending in -ly quoted in the headline, 54.45.

That's around 53.45 per 10,000 too many.