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Journal Article

Estimating the Number of Unsen Species: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Know?

Bradley Efron and Ronald Thisted
Biometrika
Vol. 63, No. 3 (Dec., 1976), pp. 435-447
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of Biometrika Trust
DOI: 10.2307/2335721
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2335721
Page Count: 13
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Estimating the Number of Unsen Species: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Know?
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Abstract

Shakespeare wrote 31 534 different words, of which 14 376 appear only once, 4343 twice, etc. The question considered is how many words he knew but did not use. A parametric empirical Bayes model due to Fisher and a nonparametric model due to Good & Toulmin are examined. The latter theory is augmented using linear programming methods. We conclude that the models are equivalent to supposing that Shakespeare knew at least 35 000 more words.

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