How Accidental Word Frequency Cut Ups Make Me Sympathetic To Digital Humanities

I was reminded of this exquisite poem today

I think I just stumbled across the magic of ‘the cut up’ completely by accident.

I was seeking the internet for common english words to put my association database to the test and happened across this simple list of the top 500 words in English in terms of usage (the complete absence of ‘sex’ makes me sceptical of the veracity of that).

CTRL+C and CTRL+V into word was no good as it carried the damned table formatted in train, so I transposed it into notepad, then back into word and stripped out the numbers.

The result was a selection of two columns of words which as I perused seeking to strip out pronouns and other words superfluous to my cause began to take on the quality of poetry. It was beautiful and I don’t know if the effect will be the same for someone who isn’t approaching the text to eviscerate it of existing words, but I’ve attached it nonetheless for anyone who’d like to read it.

Word Frequency Poetry

Incidentally if we can see more abject cut ups like this come out of Digital Humanities research rather than dull (and dubiously necessary) archiving research I think we would be so much the better

Indulge your word frequency phreak here also

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~ by Stephen Fortune on July 14, 2011.

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