Created in order to create an awesome article comparing the writing of three popular young adult authors (Stephanie Meyers, Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling), these three charts can tell us so much about writing, English, and the freaky things that what an author chooses to use can tell us about the author and about the tone of the series they are writing in.
According to the creator of these charts, Ben at Slate:
"These lists give us a sense of the authors’ respective proclivities and reflect the general tone of each series. The Hunger Games is a technical dystopia relying on detailed descriptions of the action (thus the prevalence of words like “intensely” and “electronic”). Twilight is wrapped up in emotion (thus “anxiously,” “unwilling,” and “unreadable”—the last is typically used to describe a character’s expression). Harry Potter is an exploration of a world by turns wondrous and frightening (thus “dreamily,” “terrified”)."
But is that all that we can learn (no, and he tells us a lot more in his article). But I'd like to take a look at a piece of these lists that he didn't look at. The root languages of the words chosen, and how that affects the feel of the books!
Five of J.K. Rowling's adjectives are rooted in Anglo-Saxon, which tends to be more brief and punchy. A few others that are Latin in origin (famous, magical) still are pretty brief. Meyers' list, on the other hand, has seven vowel-heavy Latin words, which explains the earthier, sharper feel of the Harry Potter series in comparison to the Twilight series. This comparison was wonderfully pointed out to me in an article from Writer Unboxed.
It's been found that if you take a simple passage ("The elements consist of particles called atoms. These are extremely small; one gram of hydrogen contains on the order of 2 X 1022 of them.") which is based in Latin, and then change it to the same information, but told through Anglo-Saxon based language ("The firststuffs have their being as motes called unclefts. These are mightily small; one seedweight of waterstuff holds a tale of them like unto two followed by twenty-two naughts.") You get a totally different feel! Suddenly, you're in a castle, casting spells and telling ancient tales....
So, when you're choosing what word, what to write, or what tone to use, remember this: the roots of your words will affect how they feel to the average English reader! If you're creating an intelligent character, stick to Latin words. More down to earth? Anglo-saxon it is! Play with this idea the next time you write.
Slate -> (http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2013/11/hunger_games_catching_fire_a_textual_analysis_of_suzanne_collins_novels.html)
Writer Unboxed -> http://writerunboxed.com/2015/01/20/forthwringing-tonguishness/