Friday, November 22, 2013


So, if you read my last post, you probably noticed I was in a bit of a tizzy--I had just been really working hard on this paper, and it was sort of getting to me that night.

But so then later I had one of those you're-doing-it-wrong epiphanies. So get this.

I was like complaining to my friend Ben about how long my paper is, wah, whoa is me, this sort of thing. By that time I had written about 4 pages, and the word count was only at like 2100 words. So I relate this to Ben, saying that if I go on like this, this paper is going to be like 6 pages long, but then he looks at me and says, no way. He was writing a paper at this time as well, and says he's on page two and has 2000 characters--there was clearly something not matching up.

He goes, "Wait, are you using word count or character count?"

Me: [mind gets blown] "I'm sorry, what?" There is a difference?

Yes folks, there is a real big difference, to the tune of like 4500 actual characters, as compared to 2100 "words."

So I'll explain a little bit. The essay is in Chinese, and the "character count" is 3000. But I was just going off the "word count" that is listed at the bottom of the page in my word processor. I thought that this would be fine to use, because in Chinese each character is its own word. But then two words next to each other can have a new meaning, almost like a new word. We suspect that somehow the program, Pages, was actually counting character phrases, which literally chops the actual word count in half.

So this was the day before the paper was due, and here I was thinking that I had such a long way to go, when in reality I had written far more that was actually necessary. I'm sure that you can imagine, I was so surprised and happy. It was such a relief.

The other funny thing is though, that I have been going off of this "word count" for my entire career in college. So all of the assignments that I have ever written have literally been twice as long as they were supposed to. Surprise! All the time I could have spent....

For all of you unsuspecting Chinese students though, for all that is good in the world, use character count, and save yourself the trouble! Anyways, that was a funny moment this week, thought I would share. Love, R.