Friday, April 3, 2009

My Area of Expertise

Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt #13: Have expertise in a specific area of study? Share your knowledge!

The idea is to let readers know where we consider ourselves knowledgeable, so they can better judge the veracity of our statements. As Michel de Montaigne once said:
"I would have every one write what he knows, and as much as he knows, but no more; and that not in this only but in all other subjects; for such a person may have some particular knowledge and experience of the nature of such a river, or such a fountain, who, as to other things, knows no more than what everybody does, and yet to give a currency to his little pittance of learning, will undertake to write the whole body of physics: a vice from which great inconveniences derive their original." - Michel de Montaigne 1533-1592 (Translated by Charles Cotton)
I am not a professional genealogist. However, I am a professional wordsmith. My daily salary comes from writing. In particular I am a grant writer. I also write the occasional piece of poetry or short fiction, but very little of this has been published.

Recently Chris Dunham of The Genealogue put together a list of "10 Genealogy Blogs Worth Reading" for His focus was on blogs from an amateur's perspective, and he included TransylvanianDutch. I was certainly honored to be included in the list. He mentioned the reason he included me was I added the word, "amanuensis" to his vocabulary.

And that is an excellent reason to recommend my blog. I use words like amanuensis, veracity, and verisimilitude.

Verisimilitude: The quality of appearing to be true or real.

(A useful term for genealogists since we know that some things can really never be 'proven' true. We can only increase the verisimilitude.)

July of last year I posted a link to this readability test where you can put your blog through a series of tests to measure its readability.

Today I redid the test, measuring all my posts from Jan 1, 2008 through the post prior to this one. (July's post explains how I did that, and how you can do that, if you use Blogger.)

Here are my updated readability statistics:

Total sentences: 16165
Total words: 123269
Average words per Sentence: 7.63
Words with 1 Syllable: 78725
Words with 2 Syllables: 23090
Words with 3 Syllables: 15634
Words with 4 or more Syllables: 5820
Percentage of word with three or more syllables: 17.40%
Average Syllables per Word: 1.58
Gunning Fog Index: 10.01
Flesch Reading Ease: 65.21
Flesch-Kincaid Grade: 6.06

My readability - with respect to the Gunning Fog Index, is identical. The Flesch-Kincaid grade level actually dropped a few percentage points, though it is still 6th grade. Average syllables per word has increased fractionally, and the percentage of words with three or more syllables has increased from 15.4 to 17.4 percent. It is still roughly equivalent to the readability of TIME or Newsweek. (The repeated usage of the five-syllable amanuensis is going to have an effect, but you may have noticed that this paragraph alone has thirteen words with three or more syllables.)

So, whether or not reading TransylvanianDutch will have any effect on your genealogical research skills is questionable. However, it may increase your vocabulary, without being too painful. You may also occasionally see quotes from 16th century French essayists, or 19th century French poets. When I quote someone else, I almost always cite my sources. Though I don't always document all my family history research, I do provide contact information for any relatives who might be interested in where my information was obtained.

No comments: