Who’s Talking About What, and Where are They?

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.

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10 Responses to Who’s Talking About What, and Where are They?

  1. Ed says:

    Do You know what surprise me ?

    if you search for ‘ps3’ and ‘nintendo wii’ (two kind of console game) the tool show us that the high average of age who ‘are talking’ about it is between 45-54 year old.

    Does the old people is playing more games ?

  2. Fernanda says:

    hi, i’m from brazil and i think this website “lexicalist” is amazing…a huge tool for people that make research! i love it! i search for Brazil, and for my surprise there is one state that is blue, then it shows that local people are more connect somehow with my country! it’s the site for advertisement companys. great!

  3. Rezaul Karim says:

    I visited the site Lexicalist and spent a good amount of time there. I became amazed to see the new kind of statistics shown on that site relating to the usage of the words by the people. They are really great to know.

    Your presentation regarding apple ipad is as well interesting.

    Rezaul Karim
    Gurudaspur, Natore

  4. Nima says:

    Does anybody know how this magic works?!

  5. emiliano says:

    Fascinating and quite incredible.

    I have look for “kindle” and the age of the people who more talk about this ebook device is from 55 to 65, it should be thought that it has to be the young?.
    No, it is the older like me who are talking about it, amazing….may be we are not so old?, or our mind is more open that every one
    could think?.

    Looking for “economic crisis” it is Iowa the state where people talk more about the theme.
    Why?, this should be my following question.

    I like “lexicallist” very much, thank you Warren.

  6. Tania says:

    Hi! I have tried the word “Euclid” , a Greek mathematician, the “Father of Geometry”. People are talking about this 65% more today than they were a month ago: male 63.7% and female 36.3%.
    Of course, geometry is for men especially. Who can solve a problem of analytic geometry?

    Best wishes,


  7. Valery says:

    Unfortunately, it’s unavailable to search whole phrase on this site, only individual word. Those phrases that I want to find are not found 🙁

  8. Stan says:

    I guess it is using the searching tools that Twitter or Facebook provides. You know many people open their demographic information in those sites. How clever!!

  9. Ali says:

    It seems like Google Trends.But in my opinion Google Trends is more reliable and gives us more detailed Information.Of course it only shows the trends in the words have been searched in Google.

  10. Madeleine says:

    I truly like this blog, please keep posting.

Comments are closed.