The Little Mermaid

from Little Golden Books

September 29th, 2008

This is a short work (only 22 pages long), but a profound tale. The protagonist, Ariel, is tormented by her search for her identity, and must choose between two very different lives. I was greatly impressed by the sensitive handling of the undertones of her Freudian relationship with her father. However, I was less pleased with the sketchy characterization of the prince.

My real reason for studying this masterwork, however, was to count the number of unique verbs that appear in this story; it presents us with a baseline for the requirements for the most minimal story. Here are all the unique verbs appearing in the book:

added, agreed, asked, awoke, became, began, believed, belong, buried, called, came, captured, changed, climbed, come, containing, convinced, cried, darkened, destroying, disappeared, discovered, disguised, dove, dreamed, fell, felt, filled, find, fire, flew, followed, found, freed, get, grabbed, grew, have, heard, help, hurried, ignored, is, keep an eye, kept, kiss, knew, knocked, learned, led, left, like, lit up, live, lost, love, lying, make, marry, meet, miss, mixed, needed, nodded, noticed, overthrow, overturned, passed, pulling, raised, remain, replied, rescued, returned, rose, running, rushed, said, sailed, sang, saved, screamed, searching, see, sent, sets, shot, shouted, slammed, speak, split, spotted, stir, struck, surfaced, swam, swooped, take over, take place, tell, thought, thrown, told, took, took place, tossed, touched, trick, tried, turn, turn back, used, visit, want, was, was destroyed, was gone, was looking, was waiting, watching, went, willing,

There are a total of 122 verbs in this list.