Thursday, January 9, 2014

In Books, Movies, and Media, the Most Popular Title Word Is 'New'

(from theatlantic.com
by Robinson Meyer)

A new study reports that the most common three English words in titles—of books, movies, and other media—are “new,” “report,” and “study.”

The development (fourth most popular) came after the researcher Roy Tennant conducted an analysis (word #5) of WorldCat, a global database of library holdings. Worldcat tracks more than 1 billion titles across 72,000 libraries. It’s managed by OCLC, an international (word #8) library collective and Tennant’s employer.

You’ll notice the results skew to the scholarly: Worldcat encompasses many university libraries, and the academic quality of their holdings definitely shows up in the data above.

Tennant’s work fits into a long history (word #6) of efforts to figure out verbal popularity. The ur-effort, by the makers of the Oxford English Dictionary, determined that the most popular English word is “the,” but similar studies have looked at heavy metal lyrics and romantic films and spoken conversations in Ohio.

But titles are a little different—they’re not quite content, and more like advertisements for what’s inside. “New” is a crucial word in headline writing, after all— and, as a character in Mad Men famously declares, “the most important idea in advertising is new.”

So it’s no wonder “new” still wins—the old word that’s incredibly important to books like the New Atkins Diet, the Inner History of the New America, and the New Testament.


Blogger's note: In case you are interested the next words in order in the top 10 are report, study, development, analysis, history, county, international, state, and guide. If you want to see the chart which contains about 40 words, click here

Also - they say this was skewed. I would love to see a study just based on regular books because I am assuming, and I may be wrong, that textbooks were used as well as other books that we as readers would not consider a book we would read but is a book by the standards nonetheless.

I personally think it is all the YA and the "New" boys at school that did it.