Geeky Linguist Moment

For those that don’t know and haven’t read the About page.  My education was all in linguistics.  More specifically computers and languages and/or computational linguistics.  Specifically I worked with things like translation software, text processing, and machine learning for things like part of speech.  Computational Linguistics is still something that I have a strong passion for although I don’t get to use it or even read about it very often any more.  That being said, today I found a Google Easter egg.  OK Its not really an Easter egg because its not hidden but I had never noticed it before so for me it was.

defineInitialSearchGiven that I am almost always at a computer I don’t really want to go find a dictionary to check the definition of a word but I really hate using words incorrectly. Of course now I will have to make sure that I do extra proofreading because the minute you say something like that is the minute you make a mistake and everyone points it out.  But just to be upfront I am very picky about many things when it comes to proofreading but a blog is not one of them.  So if I make a mistake in this post or any others please do not get angry.  So on to what I found.  Like I said, I don’t want to have to go find a physical dictionary and I have never liked the interface for the online dictionaries that are available.  They are far busier than I want to deal with.  So I have always used Google’s define functionality.  Now it used to be that you would have to enter a query into Google like this “define: WORD” and it would spit out the word, its part of speech, pronunciation, and definitions.  The system has been updated now so that if you don’t include the colon it will still define the word for you.  But today I noticed something new, there was an arrow at the bottom of the definition.  Now I don’t know when this was added but I have learned that in Google there are often things like this that don’t necessarily stand out but have some cool features.  So I clicked it.


Well what I found was some very cool linguistic stuff.  That simple arrow unveils the etymology of the word, an option to translate it into other languages, and its usage over time.  If you click on the usage over time graph then you can even go to the Google Books Ngram viewer which is an interactive graph with other searching options.  In summary, there is nothing Earth shattering here and for all I know this neophyNgramViewerhas been there for a while.  But I think it’s cool so I thought I would share.

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