Archive for November, 2010

The Exsyls Reading And Listening Scales

November 29, 2010

By Nirmaldasan


The number of syllables above one in a word (excess syllables) may be called exsyls for the sake of brevity. Irving Fang’s Easy Listening Formula is a simple adding of the exsyls of words in a single sentence. Exsyls are easily counted by skipping all monosyllabic words and the first syllable of other words.

Here is an exact equation: W (words) + X (exsyls) = S (syllables). Davis Foulger replaced the ASW (average syllables per word) with AXW (average exsyls per word) in his ‘A Simplified Flesch Reading Ease Formula’.

In an article ‘Syllable, Word And Sentence Length’, I wrote: “The average distribution of L and S and W in a sample passage resolves into this beautiful, though not exact, equation: 1 x L = 3 x S = 5 x W.” Just considering the syllable-word part of the equation, we have 3 x S = 5 x (S – X).

On simplification, S = 2.5 x X. This equation between S and X, we need to remember, is not exact. The exact equation is W + X = S.

Exsyls Reading Scale (ERS): The general form of the Strain Index (SI) is 0.3 x (Sn / n), where Sn is the number of syllables in ‘n’ sentences. By a simple substitution, we get 0.75 x (Xn / n), where Xn is the number of exsyls in ‘n’ sentences. Thus ERS = 0.75 x AXS (average number of exsyls per sentence). The ERS grades texts on a scale of 0 to 17+. It may, however, be noted that though it is easier to count exsyls than syllables, the ERS is not as accurate as the SI. This is because the ERS, unlike the SI, is not sensitive to the decrease or increase of monosyllabic words in a sentence.

Exsyls Listening Scale (ELS): In an article ‘Measuring Listenability’, I suggested a conversion formula: LG = (4/3) x [RG – 3]; LG and RG are the listening grade and the reading grade. The substitution and simplification process yields the formula ELS = AXS – 4. The ELS grades texts on a scale of -4 to 12+.

Average Sentence Length (ASL): Since the ASL is 15-20 words and 25-33 syllables, it follows from the equation (X = S – W) that the ASL also has 10 to 13 exsyls.

I wish to end this article by adding the exsyls to that ‘not exact’ equation of mine: 1 x L = 3 x S = 5 x W = 7.5 x X

It is beautiful, isn’t it?