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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006  

Happily Highlighting Hapax

Someone recently asked on the User Forum how he could highlight all the hapax legomena in a text. What the heck is a hapax? It's a fancy Latin term for words which only appear one time in a given text. I guess we could call them "one-timers," but saying things in Latin always makes you sound smarter!

Anyway, to find words which only appear one time in a given text, all you need to do is use the COUNT command. You'll find this powerful command (and many others) in the Enter Command submenu of the Search menu. Select COUNT from the menu (or use the keyboard shortcut shift-command-U) to insert this command into the search entry box. Then simply replace the highlighted question mark within the command with the number "1." Your search argument should now look like this: [COUNT 1]. Click OK, and every word which appears only one time in the text you're searching will be found.

At this point, you could click the Details button to see a Graph of which portions of the search text have the greatest concentration of hapax, or to get an Analysis of all the words which only appear once. That's not what the user who posed the question wanted to do, but hey, it's so cool I thought I'd mention it! :-)

The user who posed this question wanted to be able to highlight all the hapax legomena with a highlight style. To do that, make sure the Highlight palette is visible. If it's not, you can open it by selecting Highlight Palette from the Window menu. With the palette open, all you need to do is hold down the shift key and click the Highlight style you want to use. The style you select will automatically be applied to all the hit words found by your search.

For those who prefer contextual menus to palettes, you also have the option of control- or right-clicking one of the hit words, going to the Highlight All Hits submenu and then choosing the style you want to use.

Highlighting all the hapax legomena in this way is a cool idea, because whenever you're studying a passage, you'll immediately be able to see which words are unique to that passage and used nowhere else. Identifying such words can help you to focus on a passage's unique emphases and find possible key words.


P.S.: Doh! Someone just pointed out to me that hapax legomena is Greek, not Latin! So while it's still true that saying things in Latin makes you sound smarter, it is also true that saying something is Latin when it's really Greek is sure to make you look stupid! :-)

David, It seems to me that the Count command as you explain is simply counts the number of words used once in a specific text. I rather assume hapax indicates those words used only once--in the Hebrew Bible for example. The Count command seems to be only counting those words that appear just one time in in the search field. Perhaps I have missed some point here.
Harold Hosch


It seems to me that you and I are using "text" in different senses. When I say that you can use the Count command to find every word which appears only once in a text, I am assuming that you are searching an entire Text module, such as the BHS-W4, the GNT-T, etc. I do not mean "text" in the sense of some individual passage.

That said, if you choose to search a specific range using the Range pop-up in the More Options section of the Search window, the Count command will, as you noted, find all words which appear only once within the specified range. If you set a range in this way, you are not finding true hapax legomena.

Now, to make things more interesting, if you leave the search range pop-up set to [All Text] and use the Range command to specify a narrower passage, Accordance will find words within that range which appear only once in the entire text--in other words, true hapax.

For example, when I search an English Bible for [COUNT 1] and set the range to Philemon using the Range pop-up menu, Accordance finds words like "Timothy," which appears only once in Philemon, but many more times elsewhere in the Bible. If I set the pop-up to [All Text] and search for [COUNT 1] AND [RANGE Philemon], Accordance finds all the words in Philemon which appear only once in the entire Bible.

David, I am using Text in one of two ways: the entire BHS-W4 module, or Ezekiel, for example, as Text as well. When you use Count for the entire module the result is the number of words that appear in each biblical book only one time. I would assume that the Hebrew word used once in one book could be used twelve times, for example, in another book. I guess my question is this: Does the Count command count the words used once in each specific book--when searching the entire BHS-W4 module--or the words used just once throughout the Hebrew Bible? I think the results will be different depending on the way Count works.
Harold Hosch

Thanks Dave, you answered my question.


I've struggled in the past with understanding the different results I get when I used the [Range] command vs. when I use a search range. Is it fair to say that the search range searches and displays the specified range while the [Range] command searches the entire search range but only displays what is in the [Range] command?

Jeremy, it is ONLY with the COUNT command that it makes any difference how you set the Range. For every other search the results should be identical whether you use the Range dialog and pop-up menu, or the [RANGE] command.

For COUNT only, the count applies to the range as set in the pop-up menu, but the results are limited to the range set in the command.

Thus if your pop-up menu is set to All Text and you search for [COUNT 10] < AND> [RANGE Gen] you will find the words that occur 10 times in the whole text, but show them only where they occur in Genesis, which is probably fewer than 10 times.

Thanks, Helen. That is helpful.

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