EasyChair (Conference Management System)

My own experience is with LinguistList’s EasyAbs, but I just learned that there’s a competitor out there. EasyChair, like EasyAbs, is “designed to help conference organisers to cope with the complexity of the refereeing process”. Read more about it at This is a rare instance in which I am posting a product that I have not tried, myself, because I want others’ opinions on it!

Visuwords: WordNet gone visual

Visuwords takes Princeton’s WordNet (see previous post), the data it is based on, one step further and turns into into a visually attractive “online graphical dictionary” that lets you “Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.”

I’ve got to admit, while WordNet itself might be fun for serious linguists to play with, this is fun for everyone, and far more accessible. I love how the nodes keep popping out. Give it a try at The word “help,” for example, produces a particularly rich network.


Analyze State of the Union Addresses

Search seven of former President Bush’s State of the Union Addresses using the impressive visual interface offered by the New York Times. It shows the speeches (shrunk down) and indicates where your word of interest is, and lets you see the context of every instance. You can also easily visually compare the frequency of one word to several other words, across all seven speeches. This tool/corpus is limited, yet it’s accurate enough that it could be used for research

screenshot from the New York Times website tool

Bonus: Pre-made set of graphs showing patterns of word frequency across 75 years of State of the Union Addresses. wordfinder describes itself as a “word game wordfinder” (e.g. to help you with crossword puzzles, hangman, scrabble, etc.) but I encountered it in an ESL context: I had to come up with sets of words that ended with certain suffixes and my brain was really tired and I just wanted it done FOR me (and I also wanted to make sure that the examples I was using were ideal, rather than words that ended in -ity or whatever but maybe weren’t so common). I imagine that this could be useful for ESL instructors as well as linguistics instructors, English/writing instructors, and so on. Some examples of the kinds of things you can search for there:

Example searches:
check for exact word like “crosswords”: crosswords
three letter word, ending in “r”: –r
six letter word, first two letters “pu”, last letter “e”: pu—e
ten letter word, middle two letters “sw”: —-sw—-
words containing the sequence “sswo” anywhere: *sswo*
words of any length starting with “cross”: cross*
words of any length ending with “zzle”: *zzle
word starts with “a”, ends with “z”: a*z
starts with “b”, “c” somewhere within, ends with “d”: b*c*d
words starting with “ab” that don’t contain an “e” or “o”: ab* ^eo”

Of course it also does stuff specifically helpful for people playing word games, e.g. it shows anagrams, words that can be formed by adding one letter to the start or end of the word, shorter words found within it, etc. (Click here for an example of it being done for said.)

*Note: For select words, it shows frequency information, based on the BNC (British National Corpus), e.g. this is what it looks like for words ending in –ment. However, it doesn’t do it for all words, and I’m not sure how to get it to do it on demand. It’s being worked on.

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Online

If you’ve never poked around the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) online, what are you waiting for? It’s not just for etymologists; it’s for anyone interested in language change or even just understanding what’s going on with English currently. If you’re not familiar with the OED, the key thing to know about it is its creators strive to record the earliest instance of use of any given word, so it’s packed with quotations of how words have been used over time. Or, as its website puts it, “The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is […] is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.

Bonus: There’s a cool book about the 70-year process of creating it called The Professor & The Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

*Note: You may need to sign on to your university’s VPN (virtual private network) or equivalent in order to fully use the OED online, or have unlimited use of it, but it appears to offer a lot for free.

Complete IPA chart ~with sounds~

Complete and interactive (you can click on each symbol to hear the sound pronounced) IPA chart. Need I say more? Thank you, Department of Linguistics at the University of Victoria, for making such a great tool for linguists, or for instructors of linguistics to give to their students.

Partial screen shot of the interactive IPA chart made by the Linguistics Department at the University of Victoria. All symbols can be clicked!