Originally Posted by AnyaKimlin
Things have changed, there are things I can assume most of my readers have seen and that I don't need to describe. Jane Austen herself had a very narrow life and circle of friends, many of her readers would have been in the same position and needed more description for things.
I'd have said that there's relatively little description in Austen -- she was writing contemporary fiction for people of the same general class and with much the same interests, so she could assume they knew exactly what the Assembly Rooms in Bath looked like. Conversely, I'm reading a SF book at the moment which is absolutely laden with description, because the author needs to get across all that is strange and unfamiliar about the worlds he's created, including the alien species and technology.
It's interesting that the report makes it clear that "modern-day" is restricted to works before 1952, ie from authors who would have had an education firmly based on the classics and, in the UK, the KJV, but I can't help thinking that their methodology of counting these content-free words is itself flawed.