If you enjoy words and have some time, you might want to hang out (spend time) at www.lexicalist.com for a while.
Lexicalist calls itself a “demographic dictionary of modern American English.” You won’t learn much about the meanings of words there, but you will find out who’s talking about what and where they’re doing the talking. It’s a lot of fun!
Demographics refers to groups of people that are a part of the total population. One common demographic would be gender – men and women. Age group would be another demographic – people from 12-17, 18-24, 25-34, etc. Geography is another demographic – people who live in California, Kansas, or Kentucky, for example.
According to Lexicalist, their computers read “through millions of words of chatter (talk, often about unimportant things) on the Internet to analyze how certain demographics talk and what kinds of things they talk about.” Currently (at this time) they break this information down (divide the information) into three kinds of demographics: gender, age, and geography.
Let’s try a Lexicalist search and see what happens. Jeff and I have been talking about the Apple iPad recently. Let’s see if he and I are the only ones.
I typed “apple ipad” into the search window, clicked on “Search Keyword,” and found … some surprises! Here’s what I found:
- People are talking about Apple iPads 55% less today than they were a month ago. This is what we call a trend (the direction something is changing). Lexicalist tells you if people are talking about something more, less, or the same as they were one month ago.
- A map of the United States that shows where people are talking about Apple iPads. If a state is light blue, more people are talking about something. Dark blue is less, and black is even less. If I click on the map, I see a table (rows and columns of names and numbers, like a spreadsheet) that shows me how many people in each state are talking about the iPad. I was surprised that more people are talking about the iPad in Oregon than in California. Obviously, they didn’t count Jeff or me!
- A pie chart (information arranged like a picture) that compares the number of men and women talking about the iPad. A pie chart looks like it sounds and is a good way to compare parts of the whole (the total is always 100%). Is it really possible that more women are talking about the iPad than men? I’m not sure about that!
- A bar chart that compares the number of people in each age group that are talking about the iPad. The length of each bar (a colored rectangle) shows how many people in one age group are talking about the iPad compared to people in other age groups. It looks like people from 45-64 are talking about the iPad more than anyone else. Once again, if you click on the chart, you’ll see a table with the numbers that were used to make the bar chart.
Take a minute to check out (look at) Lexicalist. Try comparing the three slang expressions they have on the home page – omg (oh my gosh or oh my god), bruh (brother or friend), and groovy (cool). I smiled when I saw the ages of people using “omg” and “groovy,” and where they use “bruh.”
What words did you try? Did you discover anything interesting or surprising?
~ Warren Ediger – ESL tutor and coach, creator of www.successfulenglish.com where you can learn more about how to improve your English.