To take a series of novels and reduce them to just their punctuation would have been a herculean manual task in the past, but it’s just a trivial one in 2016 with the help of a little Python script created by neuroscientist Adam J. Calhoun. The result, Calhoun writes in a Medium post on his experiment, is a “wild mix of symbols … both meaningless and yet so meaningful. We can look and say: brief sentence; description; shorter description; action; action; action.”
In his piece, Calhoun further breaks down the occurrences of different kinds of punctuation in novels ranging from Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms to James Joyce’s Ulysses (he notes that the semicolon appears to have been much more popular in the past), as well as words per sentence and words per punctuation mark. But the best part is that he offers his code on GitHub for free, meaning anyone can take their favorite books and analyze their exclamatory and interrogatory cadences to death—or simply turn them into poster-worthy wall art.