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English sentence and word average length

 
 
Reply Thu 3 Apr, 2008 10:04 am
What are the average sentence length and word length in common English text?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 37,093 • Replies: 14
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Region Philbis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Apr, 2008 10:12 am

i don't know, but here's some reading material that might shed some light --

http://www.mang.canterbury.ac.nz/writing_guide/writing/flesch.shtml
http://www.askoxford.com/betterwriting/plainenglish/sentencelength/
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Dr Huff
 
  2  
Reply Thu 5 Jun, 2008 10:22 pm
Average English world length is 5.10 letters. For comparison, Korean averages 3.05 letters and the German average is 6.26 letters.

Average English sentence length is 14.3 words. Much of this, and also word length, depends on the subject and audience.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jun, 2008 05:17 am
In techy writing its impossible to elimanate the "Fog Factor" which can be calculated by a simple relationship of word length to number of words in a sentence.
Quote:

English is a difficult language to master. Word connotation, nuance, tone and subtlety can alter the intended message and cause misunderstanding and errors. Make sure your message is clear, uncluttered, and pleasingly constructed. At (shameless self promotion removed), we help you create writing that is effective, impressive, forceful and appealing.
The 'fog factor' is a writer's yardstick to measure the acceptability of written work. It measures tautology, padded syllables, sentence length, multi-syllable words and other factors as a guide to meaningful writing.
Briefly, here's how to calculate the fog factor or fog index:
A. Count the total number of words
B. Count the total number of sentences
C. Count the number of 3-syllable or more words
D. Divide A by B to get average sentence length
E. Divide C by A to get the percentage of big (3-syllable) words
F. Add D and E
G. Multiple F by 0.4
The result shows the fog factor or fog index. The ideal range is between 7 and 9. A fog factor above 1 1 indicates the writing is too heavy for most people to accept


Many times its flat impossible to simplify a sentence but its a goal that should be kept in mind.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Jun, 2008 05:27 pm
The length of sentences in English, and I don't know anything worth a blow about other languages, is a function of the intelligence of the composer of them and his penchant for taking the piss out of his fellow man.

That is a sentence which is a fair way above 14.3 words and which would make no sense if any one word was omitted in order to make understanding more efficient.

As is that sentence.

In actual fact I myself, and I'm no expert, have written many a sentence on the ID thread which far surpasses 14.3 words and all of them, as far as I could make it possible, were clear and concise expressions of the ideas I was attempting to convey at the time they were written and if anyone had any difficulties with the comprehension of them they should seek the explanation within the parameters of their own limitations and cease claiming that they were incomprehensible as a fact on the basis that their own attention span had been stunted by exposure to too much incoherence, drivel and outright bullshit.
flyboy804
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 06:39 am
Dr Huff, do you have the data on Icelandic words, many of which to my untrained eye appear to be compounded German words?
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Dr Huff
 
  0  
Reply Wed 9 Jul, 2008 03:15 pm
flyboy804 wrote:
Dr Huff, do you have the data on Icelandic words, many of which to my untrained eye appear to be compounded German words?

Average length is 5.33 letters
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DisabledVet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 08:21 pm
No Expert
spendius wrote:
The length of sentences in English, and I don't know anything worth a blow about other languages, is a function of the intelligence of the composer of them and his penchant for taking the piss out of his fellow man.

That is a sentence which is a fair way above 14.3 words and which would make no sense if any one word was omitted in order to make understanding more efficient.


A more concise way of expressing it (with considerably fewer words):
The length of sentences in English is a function of the composer's intelligence and his penchant for taking the piss out of his fellow man.

In actual fact I myself, and I'm no expert, have written many a sentence on the ID thread which far surpasses 14.3 words and all of them, as far as I could make it possible, were clear and concise expressions of the ideas I was attempting to convey at the time they were written and if anyone had any difficulties with the comprehension of them they should seek the explanation within the parameters of their own limitations and cease claiming that they were incomprehensible as a fact on the basis that their own attention span had been stunted by exposure to too much incoherence, drivel and outright bullshit.[/quote]

Where to begin?

Extraneous words adding nothing to the meaning "In actual fact, I myself" - could be replaced with the single word I.
Run-on sentence - everything from the word if (if anyone had....) is a separate thought and should be expressed as a separate sentence.
Misplaced modifiers, passive voice, etc.

Throw it all out, you didn't "take the piss out" of this particular fellow man.

Here's what you were attempting to say, in a more concise and comprehensible format.

Although no expert, many of my sentences on the ID thread far surpassed 14.3 words and all of them, as far as I could make it possible, were clear and concise expressions of the ideas I was attempting to convey at the time I wrote them. If anyone has difficulties comprehending them, instead of claiming the sentences are incomprehensible, he should seek an explanation of his attention span's failure within the parameters of his own limitations and within his over exposure to incoherence, drivel, and outright bullshit.

The sentence lengths are each over 40 words, with average word lengths approaching five characters. The reading grade level according to Flesch-Kincaid's formula would be about 20.5 - higher than most American educated people would be comfortable reading. However, I would wager that if you gave a target audience copies of both your and my sentences, I would have a much larger percentage of people who understood them.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 06:00 am
the assembled multitudes have been trying to convey that point to spendi for about 3 years. Alas, he dearly loves run-on sentences like a cooter loves water hyacinth.

Oh hey DV, glad to have ya on board.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 06:31 am
I accept DV's critique. It makes a change (Ooops, I nearly said-I must say or I must admit--then) to read a post which will help improve my literary skills.

I will try to do better. "I myself" is ridiculous. I must have been feeling overly expansive.

I was probably seeing it as an exercise in composing sentences containing more than 15 words and another opportunity to accuse fm and his cohorts of pedalling incoherence, drivel and outright bullshit.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2008 06:37 am
good for me that you suck at that too.
0 Replies
 
bobbo123
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Sep, 2009 05:28 pm
@spendius,
One could argue that we write in order to convey a message to the people who read it. Which readers exactly is up for discussion, but I think that when your opinion is given in too verbose or pedantic reply your message becomes cluttered in length, not in the lack of intelligence of the reader.

It almost as important to have your voice be heard in a clear and concise manner as it is to actually get your point across. Relatively no one will read if its too long and that will essentially negate your message. It's called advertising.

spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Sep, 2009 05:42 pm
@bobbo123,
One often hopes that only a small minority will understand and the idea that everybody might is appalling. It's the opposite of advertising.
0 Replies
 
roelvermeulen
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Mar, 2011 04:03 pm
@Dr Huff,
Hello Dr Huff. Could you indicate the source of your statement? Where did you find that average sentence length in English is 14,3 words? Is it based on a certain corpus? I would like some references.

Thanks.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Mar, 2011 10:09 pm
@Dr Huff,
Quote:
Average English world length is 5.10 letters.

Average English sentence length is 14.3 words.


This is, I believe old data. Newer studies, which have included Valley Girl corpuses, have shown average E word length to have lengthened and the sentences are now considerably shorter, somewhere in the range of 2.3 words.
0 Replies
 
 

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