Word Up!

Thanks to Brian over at The Cheek of God, I discovered a nifty & free little web-based “toy” by Jonathan Feinberg called Wordle.

Wordle generates very snazzy “word clouds”—a visual depiction that gives greater weight or prominence to words that appear more frequently in the provided source text—and lets you tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, color schemes, & more. It may seem like just a fun time-waster at first blush, but I think you can glean a bit of useful insight with this tool; since it prominently highlights your most commonly-used words, you may discover some interesting vocabulary trends within your writings.

I plugged in a sampling of 2Dolphins posts from the past 2-3 months and here’s the interesting result:

2Dolphins word cloud from Wordle

This reminds me of the Which Words Do You Own? study that I submitted our blog to last year. It’s interesting to see the difference in the word cloud from back then vs. this current one from Wordle.

What’s Another Word For Thesaurus?

English is really quite a perplexing pickle, y’know. Consider sheer size of its vocabulary, not to mention the diverse global influences that blend into this constantly-shifting linguistic amalgam. It’s estimated that an average English-speaking college graduate’s vocabulary features upwards of 60,000 words.

A blogger, programmer, part-time researcher, & all-around clever guy who goes by the pseudonym “Cavebloggem” has been conducting an interesting study called “Which Words Do You Own?” to examine the average blogger’s vocabulary and get an idea of how many words are actually in use in the Blogosphere. Analyzing a 15k word sample of his own Pretty Good on Paper blog, he found that, after weeding out typos, proper nouns, & other non-words, he used about 3,100 unique words. Intrigued, he set out to poll one new blog about each week or so and watch the vocabulary tally grow.   As subsequent blog sites are surveyed, each adds their own set of unique words to the mix.

Fascinated by this, I volunteered our 2Dolphins blog site for inclusion in the study and now the results of Cavebloggem’s analysis of our site are in! Drawing from blog posts from September ’05 through May ’07—which, in itself, must’ve been quite a Herculean effort to compile—he found that we used nearly 5,600 different words in the sample. We added a whopping 1,024 new words to the growing bloggers’ vocabulary total! I can’t tell you how much that number warms my Roget’s Thesaurus-lovin’ heart and it’s quite an honor to have been included in this interesting experiment!