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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Word Play

The other day I was looking for the visual thesaurus, and I accidentally stumbled across the Word Map. You should go there now. Type in any word (I did 'bandage') and as the cursor moves around a world map, you'll hear that word translated into various languages. You can pan around the world, zooming in and out, and see the written words and click on them to hear them on demand as well. Fun!

Then I did find the Visual Thesaurus, and sadly, it's no longer free, but you do get a free trial (without registering) so enjoy that too.

Trying to find a free visual thesaurus, I ran across Visuwords, which is a hybrid dictionary/thesaurus, but visual. It show the relationship between word, such as "X is a kind of / an instance of / a principle of / an attribute of / etc. / Y". But it's all represented visually by different type and color of line. So interesting, and great for students.

This reminded me of Wordle, which gives a visual count of word frequency in a document (words that occur more frequently are represented as larger in the collage of words).  And here's an article by Kate Smitty at Edudemic introducing nine other word cloud generators that aren't Wordle.

And strangely enough, Vocabgrabber over at Visual Thesaurus doesn't seem to require a subscription. You enter your text and then it gives you a list of all the words in your sample, a visual map of each word (as you click on them one by one), the definition of each word as you select it, AND sample usages from your own text -- helps you see if you are repeating yourself. And it allows you to sort for all vocabulary that fall in certain categories (such as geography, people, science, arts and literature, etc.). This is quite useful for looking at your own writing.

These samples reminded me of the Corpus of Contemporary American English, available online. It's a massive database of actual usages of words and collocation (word commonly appearing together) from news, magazines, books, spoken examples, etc. Type in your word or collocation, and hundreds (even thousands) of examples of sentences in which that phrase or word has actually been used, along with the citation, will be available to you.

Finally there's Wordsift from Stanford University, which offers a lot of what Vocabgrabber does, but also is linked to the Visual Thesaurus, so you can use it for free over there too.

Enjoy, but don't get started unless you have some extra time on your hands! It's addictive!

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