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13.1 The count-words-example Function

A word count command could count words in a line, paragraph, region, or buffer. What should the command cover? You could design the command to count the number of words in a complete buffer. However, the Emacs tradition encourages flexibility—you may want to count words in just a section, rather than all of a buffer. So it makes more sense to design the command to count the number of words in a region. Once you have a command to count words in a region, you can, if you wish, count words in a whole buffer by marking it with C-x h (mark-whole-buffer).

Clearly, counting words is a repetitive act: starting from the beginning of the region, you count the first word, then the second word, then the third word, and so on, until you reach the end of the region. This means that word counting is ideally suited to recursion or to a while loop.