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.

Corpus of Contemporary American English

COCA, the Corpus of Contemporary American English (available at is a giant (450 million words plus more, and growing) corpus of written and spoken English, freely available online, and with easy-to-use search tools that let you analyze the corpus in a variety of ways, e.g. collocates, frequencies, and searches for words/phrases (including the use of wildcards or parts of speech). A great go-to corpus for corpus linguists, and fun for anyone willing to put it some time playing with it to learn how it works. If you’re confused, you can click a little question mark for an explanation of most features.

Partial screenshot taken from

Clear your personal information

Did you know that you can remove your personal information from those creepy info-aggregating websites? (Spokeo is one of the worst; in most cases, it immediately pulls up a satellite photo of the person’s house). Surprisingly, getting rid of this information is often just a click or phone call away.

This site tells you how to purge your information from Intelius, Acxiom, MyLife, Zabasearch, Spokeo, BeenVerified, PeekYou, USSearch, PeopleFinders, PeopleLookup, PeopleSmart, PrivateEye, WhitePages, USA-People-Search, Spoke, PublicRecordsNow, DOBSearch, and Radaris. Note: Some of these require a scan of your driver’s license. That sounds nuts but apparently you can black out the picture and most other info aside from the stuff they presumably already have: Your name, DOB, and address.

World Atlas of Lang. Structures

The World Atlas of Language Structures

image source:

WALS (the World Atlas of Language Structures, available at is, to use its own words, “a large database of structural (phonological, grammatical, lexical) properties of languages gathered from descriptive materials (such as reference grammars) by a team of 55 authors (many of them the leading authorities on the subject).”

Essentially, it lets you easily answer questions like “Hmm… I wonder what the ratio of Adj-N languages is to N-Adj. languages, and where, in the world, the N-Adj. languages are spoken.”  It has nifty features involving maps, useful information about language groups and families, and tons of references (its own, or outside ones) that you can check out for more information.