February 14, 2013

Whale words


The word “whale” occurs 1,685 times in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.

“Elijah” is there 15 times, “Ahab” 512, and “harpoon” 256 times.

I know this not from dutiful reading, but because of Whale Words, a site that calculates word frequency in the book. After calculating the number of times used, the site displays the corresponding word using a graphic chart and also presents the paragraphs in which it appears.

Matt Pearce is the man behind the curtain. Of the project, he says:

My first idea for this project came when I saw a infographic of word frequency in the Wire. I wanted to make an interactive version of the same data, showing the number of occurrences of each word per episode. Since each episode contains roughly the same amount of dialog, it would be relatively simple to draw a single bar for each episode.

Go to Whale Words and give it a shot. Here’s a screenshot of the frequency chart.

(thanks to The Rumpus for finding this little gem)



Kevin Murphy is the digital media marketing manager of Melville House.