Did Hemingway write in short sentences? You probably think so. But you’re wrong! Science wins again.

You can believe actual data. We’ll call that Door #1. Or you can believe your general “impression.” We’ll call that Door #2. Or you can believe what other people tell you—the “common knowledge” that everyone “knows.” We’ll call that Door #3.

Actually, we all do all three of these at various times. But my erstwhile classmate Mark Liberman decided to go through door #1, as he is a linguist, i.e. a scientist. You will probably be surprised at his results, which he explains carefully with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one—oh, sorry about that, that’s the wrong quotation, but we just had Thanksgiving, after all—I meant to say with trees and graphs and a paragraph next to each one. Do read his analysis and even the comments; you will find it an illuminating experience.

Categories: Books, Linguistics