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Which words do you own?–Second Effort May 31, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, Haiku, linguistics, Other, vocabulary.

[Note: This is part of a continuing series on the actual vocabulary in use in the blogosphere.  Posts on this subject started here and will continue on a somewhat weekly basis.]

Today’s volunteer is the blog Second Effort, which is run by a man operating under the nom de blog The Curmudgeon.  Sad to say this but I actually had to look up curmudgeon in the dictionary to ensure that I knew what the word meant.  I had connotations aplenty involving Walter Matthau and Grandpa Simpson, but I wanted to be sure.  My dictionary wasn’t all that helpful, since it seemed to contradict the aforementioned pop-culture connotations, and itself.  “Dealer in corn”?  “Miser”?  “Churl”?  There’s another one to look up.  But I digress. Often. You know I do, because otherwise why so many parentheses?

At any rate, The Curmudgeon added quite a few words to the database, 717 of them to be exact, for which I am eternally thankful.  I took a sample of 28,931 words from his blog, which he posted between March 15 – May 14 (inclusive).  In that sample he used 4,490 different words, which may be some kind of record, actually.  It seems pretty far from the norm, but I would have to check the records to say for sure.  Suffice it to say at this time that the sample I took from my own eclectic and highly literate blog yielded only 3,100 unique words. 

Here is a word cloud comprised of the words that he used more than twice and was the only blogger, out of the 21 sampled thus far (by the way, goodthomas, I did not include your story about the dog in this) to use. 


In case you are wondering about the biggest word, “sox,” I am pretty sure that like quite a few other words, it comes from geographical considerations.  I wondered why it wasn’t picked up as a mis-spelling, which is part of the process by which I delete names from the database.  Turns out that it is also a word.  According to the OED, sox are “A light and usually heelless covering for the foot, capable of being easily slipped on, and chiefly employed for indoor wear.”  I have no earthly idea how MS Word’s dictionary knew this, because I certainly did not add this one in. 

Anyway, here’s another copy of the same cloud, in a font called “Curlmudgeon.”  Whatever.


And here’s the Venn diagram I usually make out of these words.  The left lobe consists of words that were new in the sample, that nobody else had used, sized relative to the frequency of use.  The middle lobe consists of words that everybody has used so far, sized according to how much more frequently The Curmudgeon used them in the sample.  And the right lobe consists of words which everyone else sampled thus far has used, but that The Curmudgeon did not, sized by frequency of use. 


It seems fairly obvious to me that The Curmudgeon is an attorney (plaintiff, justices, consular, pleadings, etc.) living in Chicagoland (cubs, sox, tribune) and that the sample was taken during the spring (nappy-headed, cicadas). 

And finally, here is another effort by my Haiku-generating algorithm, which stumbled on only one word this time, one that simply had too many uses.  I fixed it by hand.

Dog-eared communicants,
boomers in parades for
skittish son’s gadgets.

I started reading Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things last week and was struck by how he got the inspiration for the title of his book.  He awakened from a dream and the phrase “fragile things,” was part of a larger phrase that came out of the dream and rambled around in his head.  His attempt to assign meaning to the seemingly meaningless phrase generated a narrative.  Simple as that.  So, start by explaining the dog-eared communicants.  Finish with the most talked-about movie of the summer. I leave the middle part out as an exercise for the reader.

As always, the vocabulary clouds and Haiku are the property of the volunteer, except that said volunteer may not have them taken off of my site and stuff but may otherwise do with them what he wishes.  Thanks for participating, Mr. Curmudgeon.


1. The Curmudgeon - May 31, 2007

Thank you for allowing me to participate. I’ll have a post on this in the morning.

2. Linda - June 1, 2007

Leave it to a barrister to inflate the word count by leaps and bounds!

3. silverneurotic - June 2, 2007

I’m almost scared now to ask if you would mind doing a study of my blog.

Oh, and I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only one that was sort of clueless about the meaning of “Curmudgeon”. :)

4. caveblogem - June 5, 2007

silverneurotic. Don’t be scared. It doesn’t really hurt, I don’t think. I’ll get to yours in a couple of weeks.

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