Friday, September 03, 2004

Fun with Words

Encountered a strange little corner of the internet recently: According to themselves, "WordCountâ„¢ is an artistic experiment in the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonality."

Interesting enough in and of itself, but it became even more interesting when I asked for the 1000th most common word. Right next to it, at 1001 was January.

Now this could be interesting. I had already seen "one", "two" and "first" in my wanderings, but by virtue of their meaning, you would expect "one" to appear more often than "two", "first" more often than "second", etc. But the months of the year should be virtually identical. Would they be? Of course not!

Here's my results from most common to least common, omitting March and May, since they're homonyms, which screws them up:
April 668
June 674
July 834
October 954
September 985
January 1001
November 1089
December 1091
February 1228
August 1288

It makes a strange kind of intuitive sense to me that the winter months should be less popular, but I\'m not sure why August is such a black sheep.

This led to a few more fun comparisons, like things you shouldn't talk about: sex (1236), politics (1388) and religion (2295). Death is 454th, but birth is 1964th.

For whatever it's worth, there it is.