I Like the Way You Talk*

Recently, Moira at Clothes in Books shared a really interesting post about the words and phrases she uses in her blog posts. The fact is, we all have patterns of words and phrases that we use; they are part of our identities as communicators. She invited the rest of us to do the same, and take a look at the way we use words when we blog. So, being a ‘language person,’ I couldn’t resist the opportunity to reflect on my own blogging.

I looked over approximately 3,723 posts that I wrote between 2012 and now. And within those posts, I did see some interesting patterns of word and phrase I use. And I think they say something about both the blog and me. So let’s take a look:




As you can see, by far the most common word/phrase I use is Agatha Christie/Christie’s. There are 1691 instances of that name in the posts, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’m a fan of Christie’s work, and frequently find examples in her novels of what I discuss on this blog.

Lots of my blog posts are devoted to looking at the way real life is reflected in crime fiction, and what that tells us about ourselves. So it also shouldn’t be surprising that I found 639 phrases such as, ‘In real life, and in crime fiction.’ The best crime fiction, I think, makes us look at ourselves.

As I mention books on my blog, I often say a few things about the characters. After all, characters are the heart of a good story. So it makes sense that there were 550 uses of phrases such as, ‘We are introduced to…’ as different characters were mentioned.

I often get inspiration from other blogs and posts (this post being a case in point!). So I use phrases such as, ‘_____ has got me thinking…’ (155 times, as this data set shows). I’m always grateful to be inspired by so many excellent bloggers and authors! I enjoy ‘food for thought.’

Of course, I like to think of this blog as a public service opportunity, too. Crime fiction can be a dangerous thing, so it’s always good to be careful (there were 30 such warnings in this data set). You can always count on me to be alert!

What, the other category? So there were 270 mentions of Billy Joel. So what??!  No, you’re obsessed. 😉

Thanks, Moira, for the inspiration.  Now, please go visit Moira’s excellent blog. You’ll find a real treasure trove of reviews and commentary on clothes and culture in fiction, and what they tell us about ourselves.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Dale Hawkins’, Stan Lewis’, and Eleanor Broadwater’s Susie Q.

12 thoughts on “I Like the Way You Talk*

  1. Margot: Your analytics are impeccable. I lack the organization to conduct such searches. My only surprise is that there were not more mentions of Billy Joel. I hope he does not feel slighted. You may want to include his name more often in posts.

    I admire you for taking up Moira’s challenge. I enjoyed her post this morning and your post this evening.

    As far as I can tell she is anecdotal and you are analytical in your self-examination.

    I find I am self-conscious over personal examination. I know more of my repetitions in speech than in writing.


    1. You know, Bill, you have a good point. I certainly wouldn’t want to slight Billy Joel! I’ll have to mention him a lot more often than I do now. I appreciate your suggestion!

      I think a lot of people are self-conscious about reflecting, whether it’s on their speech/language or whether it’s something else. It can be awkward. But I also think it can teach a lot, so I had no problem taking on Moira’s challenge. I’m just glad I don’t generally use profanity on this blog. That might have been awkward! And what can I say? Analytical works for me…


  2. An interesting post – I know that there are some phrases and words I am particularly prone to using and do my best to catch them but they somehow manage to slip through regardless.


    1. Thanks, Aidan. I think most of us have words or phrases we use a lot, and often without really thinking about it. That’s why it can be so tricky to catch them. I know I do that in my fiction writing, too.


  3. I love this post Margot, and feel honoured to have inspired it! Also love Bill’s description – I am more anecdotal and you are analytical: he is spot on isn’t he? Delighted Agatha did so well, and your phrases absolutely represent your blog as we all know and love it. But honestly – poor Billy Joel, he’ll have turned to this post thinking ‘Oh I bet I am Margot’s favourite, I know I’ll be right up there at the top.’ And now he’s probably writing a sad song about his disappointment. Come on, Margot, be fair on the poor man: there are probably people out there who don’t even know you like him!


    1. You know, Moira, I think anyone who has ever read my blog is probably well aware that I am besotted with a fan of Billy Joel! But just in case, I’ll have to start mentioning him a lot more often! And what? He may be writing a song about me? *Stares dreamily off into space*

      In all seriousness, I was impressed with what Bill said, too. It’s observant, and yes, he is spot on. It’s one of the great things about both of us taking a look at the way we write. There are different ways to write, and different ways to reflect on how we write. That adds to the wealth of the blogosphere, if you ask me. And about Dame Agatha? I’d honestly have been very surprised if she didn’t make a really strong showing…


  4. Sorry I missed this earlier, Margot. Very entertaining. I had not thought of your comparisons of real life and crime fiction. How wonderful that Agatha Chistie is so prominent.

    I have a question or two. Have you read every book by Christie? And have you read them more than once?


    1. I was happy to see that Agatha Christie turned out to have such a prominent place in my blog writing, too, Tracy. I’ve been a fan for decades, and it’s nice that that shows on the blog.

      I will admit, I haven’t read every book Christie ever wrote, although I’ve read a lot of them. I’ve read several of them more than once, too – sometimes three or four times. There are just some that are that good (in my opinion).


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