Move over Bob Dylan: you don’t use anywhere near as many words as rappers

A new study has looked at the vocabulary used in bestselling artists’ work, and it has found that Eminem uses 4,000 more words than Dylan

Bob Dylan … Words fail him. Photograph: Douglas R. Gilbert/Redferns

He may be the most revered wordsmith in the classic rock pantheon, but Bob Dylan doesn’t have the widest vocabulary in pop. Far from it, in fact. A study by musixmatch has looked at the numbers of words used in song by 93 of the best-selling artists of all time, as listed by Wikipedia, and discovered that Dylan comes only fifth.

The study looked at the 100 densest songs – by total number of words – in each of the artists’ catalogues, and discovered that the artist with the greatest vocabulary is Eminem, with a vocabulary size of 8,818 words. On average, he uses a word he has never previously used every 11 words. He’s followed by Jay Z (6,899), Tupac Shakur (6,569) and Kanye West (5,069). Dylan lags behind in fifth (4,883).

The places from 7-10 are occupied by four acts for whom English is not a first language: Julio Iglesias, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion and B’z. There are surprises elsewhere, too. The best-selling act of all time, the Beatles, are only 76th in the list, with a vocabulary of 1,872 words. The Who, whose Pete Townshend is famed for his songwriting and his rock operas, come in 86th, with 1,794 words, behind Shania Twain and New Kids on the Block.

The average vocabulary size is 2,677 words, with 40 of the 93 artists having a vocabulary size of within 400 words of that total.

The artist with the smallest vocabulary was Kenny G (893 words). This is perhaps unsurprising, given he is a saxohphonist who mainly records instrumentals.

Via The Guardian

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