The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0489 Thursday, 1 March 2001
From: Peter Porco <
Date: Thursday, 01 Mar 2001 01:40:42 -0900
Subject: Query from Alaska
[Editor's Note: Here is another one of those queries from a non-member
that someone may be moved to answer. If you do so, please respond
Dear SHAKSPER Fileserver:
I'm a newspaper reporter for the Anchorage Daily News in Anchorage,
Alaska. I'm working on a story about a recent nine-day,
open-to-the-public, round-the-clock reading of the entire works of
Shakespeare that occurred this month in Fairbanks, Alaska.
In order to make an impression on the reader as to what such a task
might entail, and to indicate to the reader the scope of Shakespeare's
vocabulary and its hold on the readers, I thought I would try to answer
the following questions:
* Exactly how many words are contained in the complete Shakespeare
* How many different words are there in the complete works -- the limit
of his vocabulary?
* Who are the writers closest to him by these measures? For example, I
have read that the Bible contains about 2,000 different words. Joyce's
"Ulysses" contains about 8,000 different words. How many might all of
Shakespeare's works have, and who is the writer nearest to him? A
professor I know thought it might be Milton.
If these are not the kinds of questions readily answered, would you know
where I might go next? If an editor of a concordance or online
compendium would know, could you suggest who?
I appreciate that this request will take a little bit of time (but not
much, I hope), and you have my deepest gratitude for whatever help you
Peter Porco, reporter
Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage, AK 99514-9001
[ fax 258-2157 ]