Thursday, October 07, 2010

Fun things about GKC's writing

Today is the fifth anniversary of the startup of one of my systems - the one we called "Denver" - and though it moved some 17,000 files inbound and 17,000 files outbound each day, it was not anywhere as interesting as the other system which performed Subsidiarity. But this is about me, and boring.

Far more important is today's feast, the feast of the victory of the navies of the West over the forces of the Turks in the battle of Lepanto - the victory attributed by Pope St. Pius V to the intercessory power of the Holy Rosary. I am sure you already know that Chesterton wrote a poem about it - and you may read it here.

At some point, I will try to get some thoughts together on the Rosary - this year marks the eighth since John Paul II proposed the "Luminous" mysteries, and since I have been doing them often recently, I ought to get some notes together for your consideration. There are some interesting ideas one can find in the serious exploration of the Public Ministry of our Lord, especially when put under the intense "Marian Magnifier" of the Rosary... Did you ever notice that we could just as easily call them the "Aquatic" or "Hydraulic" Mysteries? Er - those terms have their own very technical meanings, so maybe we might just say "the mysteries of water"... oh yes.

But I did promise you something fun about GKC's writing - and I have some odd things today. I got it from my computer. I mean, what good is a computer that just sits there and records your typing, or shows you the typing of other people? I still remember that hilarious line from "Back to the Future" where Marty's father-to-be says to Marty's mother-to-be, "You are my DENSITY". And I mention "density" because I was thinking about words, and how many letters a given word can have.

Oh, now, I don't mean that as a joke. Obviously a given word has as many letters as it has. It's grand that "four" has four letters, though it is really odd that "five" also has four letters, "six" has three letters and "three" has five letters. Oh well. But how many different letters are in a given word?

Consider the ratio of the number of different letters in a word to the total number of letters in a word - let us call that its "density". So a word like "cat" has three letters, and all three are different 3 divided by 3 is one - so the density of "cat" is 1.0. But a word like "noon" has four letters with only two different ones, so 2 divided by 4 is one half - the density of "noon" is 0.5.

The question before us, then, is what is the MOST dense and LEAST dense words in Chesterton's writing? (I don't bother asking about ALL words, let someone else do that project.)

After a little coding, the answers readily appear. (drum roll)

The least dense word in GKC's work as I presently have it is "senselessness" - which has four different letters in a thirteen-letter word, for a density of roughly 0.31.

There are a fair number of words which have density 1.0, but let us take the longest such words. There are still several, each has twelve different letters:


Very curious. Of course you can readily see that "ambidextrously" would have 14 letters, though GKC did not use that word. I wonder if there are any longer ones...


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