Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Word-Graphs

Technology & Language ~ Can They Get Along with Each Other?

I’m going to feature an interview in today’s post with Ben Zimmerlinguist, lexicographer, and language columnist—executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and

I’ve featured the Visual Thesaurus six times on this blog ( seven times with this post :-)

And, to set the stage for excerpts from Ben’s interview, here come “word-trees” for Language and Technology from the Visual Thesaurus:
[ On the Visual Thesaurus site, you can grab branches of the tree and move them around; or, click on words in the tree and have a new tree for that word pop up; or, click on words and expand that branch of the tree… ]



The original interview with Ben is at the Chicago Manual of Style Online, in their Shop Talk column.

An excerpted version is on the Visual Thesaurus siteBen Zimmer on How Technology is Shaping Language.

As always, I urge you to read the full articles and I’ll give you some bits to encourage you to take those links :-)

All the following quotes are from Ben’s answers to questions in the interview


“I’m fascinated by the ‘technologization’ of language, both in terms of how new communications technology is shaping language in unexpected ways and how that same technology is giving us fresh insights into how language works.”

“Because electronically mediated styles of talk are less fixed than traditional ones, it’s not surprising that we don’t have a good handle on what is happening with emerging linguistic conventions.”

“Though computer-mediated communication is often portrayed as nothing more than a series of abbreviations and emoticons, that stereotype masks some fascinating language shifts going on with texting and other short-form writing.”

“I love print dictionaries and thesauruses and still enjoy collecting them, but putting these resources online opens up worlds of possibilities. The Visual Thesaurus, for example, creates interactive displays of the relationships between words and between senses of words by means of elastic, spring-like graphs. Moving from node to node through this type of semantic visualization, the jumps can be unexpected, allowing for the emergence of a different kind of serendipity than the kind that a print reference normally affords.” moves beyond the traditional structure of the dictionary to present engaging text that explains word usage, as well as commandeering examples from a massive textual corpus to illustrate ‘words in the wild’. These rich lexicographical resources are then integrated into an adaptive learning program, where word-learning becomes an active, dynamic process.”

“The biggest challenge, I find, is differentiating lexical flashes-in-the-pan from those words and phrases that have a chance of sticking around. So much of what passes over the transom is evanescent, fading away as quickly as it bubbles up. It’s easy to get lost in the welter of words, especially with the endless churn of social media, so I try to keep a reasonable perspective to avoid getting caught up in transient linguistic fads.”


If you do read the full interview (or, the excerpted version), please, do come back and leave a few thoughts in the Comments

Actually, if all you do is read this post, please, do leave a few thoughts in the Comments :-)
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
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