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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/149

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145
CHARACTERISTIC CURVES OF COMPOSITION.

exclusive, but they are separated by a wide gap. Goldsmith's averages, 4.0 and 4.9 letters per word, respectively, show a similar difference, and so do Schiller's and Dryden's averages. Doubtless this factor of average word-length alone which can be determined with an expenditure of but a small fraction of the time required for the determination

PSM V65 D149 Comparison of word curves between dryden and goethe.png
Fig. 17. Two 5,000 Word-curves from Dryden. (Table IV.) (A) Prose Drama 'Sir Martin Mar-all,' (B) Essay 'Essay on Satire.' Fig. 18. Six 5,000 Word-curves from Different Works of Goethe. (See Table V.) (A) Three dramatic prose curves, (B) Three curves of criticism and description.

of the figures necessary to construct the word-curves, would in general be indicative of the nature of the curve, so that in critical cases only, the word-curve would need to be examined.

The question still remains whether two word-curves of the same author may vary as much as the word-curves of different authors, that

PSM V65 D149 Word curves of Goethe and english prose.png
Fig. 19. Two 15,000 Word-curves from Goethe. (Table V.) (A) Dramatic prose, (B) Criticism and description. Fig. 20. (A) 400,000 Word-curve from Shakespeare; (B) 200,000 Word-curve from Bacon. (After Mendenhall.)

is, whether, so far as word-curves indicate anything, an author differs as much from himself as from other authors. This question can not be definitely answered until a large number of authors have been compared, that is, until we have obtained the maximum variation between authors, as well as the maximum variation between various forms of composition. But so far as the evidence at hand may be