I intend to use this blog as a place to discuss my work (or fun) in progress.
I will sometimes digress into observations about language as well —
I am a recidivist linguist after all.
The Language of Oz
Last time I looked at the language of colors, and of course it's hard to think about colors without thinking about rainbows, and it's hard to think about rainbows without thinking abou the song "Over the Rainbow" and it's hard to think about the song without thinking about the MGM movie The Wizard of Oz.
However, even though the movie is a classic, I've never read the books on which it is based. It turns out that L. Frank Baum wrote 14(!) books in the Oz series, plus a bunch of other things connected to the Land of Oz. Not surprisingly, the MGM movie is a bit different from the books — example, Dorothy has silver shoes, not ruby slippers.
Just for fun, I've created a page that lets you explore the language of the Oz books for yourself. (You can open it separately, if you want.) While I won't claim to be a wizard, I hope you will find it wonderful.
While Judy Garland sang the original version of "Over the Rainbow" (she was only 16!), I think this version by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is even better — one of the relatively few cases where a later interpretation is better than the "classic" one.
Color me intrigued
After seeing a whole range of fireworks all across the area north and east of Seattle on the Fourth of July, all from the deck of the place where we're staying, I was inspired to look up some color terms. I was surprised and intrigued by the results.
Watch your balance!
For the past few years I've been helping with a project which is a social history of early women artisan photographers. In looking for examples in newspapers or on eBay, using phrases like "woman photographer", "female photographer", and "lady photographer" can be very useful. Being the recidivist linguist that I am, I decided to look for those phrases in a standard balanced corpus of historical English, namely the Corpus of Historical American English (COHA). Imagine my surprise when I found only a handful of results!
Raining on your parade?
Do you ever feel like life is raining on your parade? I mean, how often do you have big plans for Saturday only to have it rain? Having recently moved to Seattle, with its reputation for rain, I decided to see how much parade-raining life brought to Seattle last year.
It's not you
The other day I was at the meat counter in the grocery store, and I was curious about something I hadn't seen before, so I asked the butcher, "How do you cook that?" She replied "How do I cook it?"
In doing some research for the Coming into Focus project I came across this sentence in a newspaper article:
Miss Sue Dorris and Dr Alice [sic] M. Smith offer the finest proof of the feasibility of two bachelor women [emphasis added — CuC] successfully maintaining a home for themselves together and without friction in the matter of building the morning fires.
Eugene, Oregon Morning Register, March 2, 1915, p. 4
One of the things I'm interested in is how techniques that work in one context might work in other contexts, and what we can learn about those techniques when we go beyond their typical applications.
Word embeddings, aka word vectors, are typically used with large corpora, such as Wikipedia or Common Crawl web pages or massive numbers of tweets. One paper said something to the effect of "As long as your corpora have 100 million words, this technique will work."
But what if your corpus doesn't have 100 million words? What if you are interested in how an author uses words in just one book?