Dan

Hapax

“Know what ‘hapax legomenon’ means?” he asked me.

“When your word only shows up once over the entire work, er, corpus, whatever?” I say.

“Yup. Wouldn’t it be weird if we could have a long conversation, never repeating ourselves?”

“Seems almost impossible.”

“Still, imagine writing stories intentionally like that.”

“Hardly possible for natural prose, then. But which would be trickiest? The multiple ‘the’s and ‘a’s gotta be tough.”

“The’s definitely rough. Fine, articles allowed. And awful hard without saying ‘be’, just hit ‘be’ twice in one go!”

“How about tenses or homonyms? Can ya reuse them? And abbreviating? Cheating by way of styling, slangifying?”

“Nope. Pretty sure the whole thing’d fall apart, fast. Couldn’t communicate honestly… anything valuable anyway.”

“Dunno, dude. Humans are sometimes super damned sneaky.”

“So? Uhh… why you even getting at, here?”

“Zipf’s law. Information compression. Maybe we’d realize some bitter fact on language affecting thoughts. Finally run outta words. Be forced to really speak the truth.”

“Yeah, right. Get real, man.”

 

cat writing/short/hapax | tr '[:space:]' '[\n*]' | tr -d '[:punct:]' | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]' | grep -v "^\s*$" | sort | uniq -c | sort -bnr | head
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