Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Word Count Politics

11 July 2004

I realize that word counts are more problematic than one might think, but I finally have a good example of machine word counts that differ significantly.

$ wc paper.xml
171 2212 15400 paper.xml

So, 15,400 characters and 2212 words.

BBEdit, however, reports 15,400 characters, 2509 words, and 351 lines. The last is pointedly wrong, since it shows 171 that wc does.

But why a difference of almost 300 words (> 10%) in the word count proper? Granted, I’m using an ancient version of BBEdit, but hey, it should still work.

Peculiarly, the new version of BBEdit shows 2409 words. Hmm.

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