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Infographic of the Day: Does Outkast have a bigger vocab than Shakespeare?
What one coder learning comparing hip-hop lyrics and the works of the Bard of Avon
Matt Daniels, a data scientist, coder, and designer compared the vocabulary of one William Shakespeare with that of the most prolific rappers to create a mind-bogglingly complex interactive graphic. The findings? Some hip-hop artists have outdone the Bard.
Shakespeare, Daniels notes, reportedly used more than 28,000 unique words in his entire oeuvre. To compare the Bard of Avon to MCs, Daniels created datasets of unique words in the first 35,000 lyrics of works by 85 artists, ranging from Wu-Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg to Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes.
Daniels then compared the rappers’ vocab to the unique words used in a 35,000-word Shakespearian dataset, which he created by pulling the first 5,000 words from seven masterpieces—Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Winter’s Tale, Troilus and Cressida, and As You Like It. Just for grins, he also pulled the first 35,000 words of Moby Dick.
In those samples, Shakespeare used 5,170 unique words and Melville 6,022.
How does Outkast stack up? The ATLiens came in at No. 15, with 5,212 words. They achieved this in part by coining words of their own—Stankonia—or drawling phrases into single words. Nahmsayin?