litterära termer 13: hapax legomena

”Ever used the word ‘snowcrie’? I doubt it. In fact, ‘snowcrie’ doesn’t even have a definition.

As far as we know, according to the Oxford English Dictionary it was a typo of sorts. It occurred in 1402 when the following line was written in a poem: ‘Not in Goddis gospel, but in Sathanas pistile, wher of sorowe and of snowcrie noon is to seken.’ This really doesn’t make sense and scholars think it is likely a scribal error and was meant to be ‘sorcerie.’

But whatever its true nature, ‘snowcrie’ is known as a hapax legomenon, a word that only occurs once in a given corpus. In this case, the corpus consists of everything in English from that time period. But the body of text doesn’t have to be so large. So, within the Shakespearean corpus—all of the writings of Shakespeare—there are numerous hapax words such as honorificabilitudinitatibus.”

Citerat ur Samuel Abesmans ”Hapex Legomena and Zipfs Law” i Wired 26 januari, 2012


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