The Mind Reels

     It’s none of my business, I suppose, but a list of the 1,000 most commonly used words in English set me to thinking.
     (Talk about asking for trouble …)
     I have no problem with “the, and, to, of, a, I, in, was, he, that” – our Top 10 Words – nor with the next 10: “it, his, her, you, as, had, with, for, she, not.”
     I do not wish to comment, or be blamed – especially not to be blamed – because “his” (12) comes before “her” (13), “you” (14), and “mother” (187).
     Feminists may ponder – but please, do not inform me – of conclusions to be drawn because “father” (199) comes in 12 behind mother.
     But I do not wish the feminists, or anyone else, to inform me of the implications of “it” coming, so to speak, right before “his” and “her.”
     Nor do I want to know why “not” (20) comes before “did” (77) and far ahead of “didn’t” (626), or why “no” (38) is 3.5 times more prevalent than “yes” (197).
     I assume we all are acquainted with ETAOINSHRDLU, our Top 12 letters.
     But I must wonder why, if H is our 8th most-popular letter, it is worth 4 points in Scrabble, while P, which does not appear in this vile acronym, is worth only 3.
     I remember the time …
     But I digress.
     It may be interesting that “was” (8) is 2.5 times more prevalent than “is” (28).
     (OK, 2.55240141113481 times more prevalent, if you want to beat me to death about it.)
     But I am not interested in this (34).
     I consider it a testing error, because the study to which I refer – against my better judgment, but it’s too late now (55) – comes from “29 works of literature by 18 authors (4.6 million words) and Rosengren’s modified frequency, with case-equated matching.”
     Whatever that means (358).
     Leave me alone (318).
     As I was saying, the study to which I refer is of written English, from the United Kingdom, of all places (989).
     I assume that in spoken English, “is,” or its abbreviated equivalent, ” ‘s” (sic), would more closely challenge, and possibly even dethrone, “was.”
     If you consider being No. 8 a throne.
     I, personally, do not.
     But as you may have deduced by now, I lost my senses some time ago.
     The first adverbs in the Glorious 1,000 are “so” (33) and “very” (49).
     I consider this good work from adverbs.
     They whupped up on the first pure adjective, “little” (64).
     Who (51) would (41) have (26) thought (110) that (10) an (50) adverb could (48) have (26) done (172) such (80) a (5) thing (198)?
     Now (55) you (14) may (114) say (93), if (40) you haven’t fallen asleep yet (135) and (2) can (103) desist from (36) Googling me (30) to (3) find (249) my (24) address in (7) an (50) understandable quest for (18) revenge, that adjectives should (75) be (23) more (56) popular than (65) adverbs.
     I agree.
     But our most popular adjectives, such as “that” (10), “this” (34), “his” and “her,” may also function as nouns, pronouns, or pronominal modifiers.
     Put down that gun.
     Calm down.
     I’m almost (228) done (172).
     The first interjection on the list is “oh” (203).
     “O” came in at 483.
     That seems a bit (675) unfair.
     “Unfair” did not make the Top 1,000, though “fair” (466) did.
     “Poor” came in at 191, a whopping 561 ahead of “rich” (752).
     “Boys” (738) come before “girls” (820).
     Isn’t that always the way?
     Ah, well, at least “honest” (738) trumps “lie” (797), and “joy” (805) edges out “sad” (844).
     Though, again, if we could study spoken English, I think those ratings might be reversed.
     “Black” (378) beats “white” (386) by 8 points, and “nothing” (127) comes in ahead of “something” (196).
     What (44) does (347) this (34) all (35) mean (288)?
     Beats the heck out of me.
     But “opinion” (439) beat “death” by 6 – good news for columnists – and “brother” (441) and “sister” (449) both beat “god” (455).
     That’s good enough for me.

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