Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Our final word count is ...

100,388

That's our final count of the words in To Kill a Mockingbird. Our pencil copied every last one.

This includes the title "To Kill a Mockingbird" and the Section Titles "Part One" and "Part Two."

It takes in 405 pages of text in this edition, for an average of just about 248 words per page.

Our copying consumed 573 sheets of paper, giving an average of about 175 words copied per page.

We involved 26 volunteers for the first 32 continuous hours, copying about 32,000 words.

5 volunteers completed the task over the course of the following 4 weeks, in approximately 60 more hours. Probably more when you include the task of counting the words.

Please note that OUR count was 100,388 words. We feel this is accurate within 500 words. It's possible that another count would be different simply due to human error, as well as to different choices about how to count words, particulary hyphenated words or uses of dialect or common speech. For example, how many words would you count in each of the following uses?

one-shot
sweat-streaked
't's right
he'da
m'shoes

We counted two words in each case. In cases like this, our process was to "translate" and count the words represented. For example:

't's right = That's right
he'da = he'd have
m'shoes = my shoes

Anyway, we've reached our major goal and intend to retire the pencil. It certainly has more words left in it, but it's fought the good fight and we want to have enough left to display in the library!

Actually, our original goal was simply to test the claim in Discover magazine that the average pencil can write 45,000 words. We're amazed to have written well more than double that number.

This entire project has been a challenge, a blast and a grind. It was wonderful to join with many volunteers and to amuse and surprise those hearing our story. We hope to do more pencil events, involve many more people and draw more attention to the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library and it's soon-to-launch building campaign.

See? You never know what might be going on down at the library!

P.S. This may sound like a final post, but it's not. What for updates!


2 comments:

Rain said...

Now this is just cool! I miss this sort of thing... When I was a kid, and I am not old, just in my mid thirties, we did this sort of thing... Seems a lost art nowadays, to just to take up challenges and have fun, forno other reason except curiosity. Well done, and yay for you!

Keith Eldred said...

Thanks very much, Rain!