Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Tenderness is declining, but so is Impatience, the Power of Online Dictionaries

I write and I love words, actually nearly everyone writes, whether its texts, emails, birthday cards and I think everyone should love words.  They can be the killer ammunition to your getting your point across.  Chose a duff one and you're firing blanks.  When I'm tapping away into a word processor, as good as their internal dictionaries are, sometimes they'll disagree with your spelling.  You'll be sure, you're right, but the wavy red line is under your carefully chosen word and doubt creeps into your mind.  My last word that fell in to that trap was 'manufactory', it's where the word 'factory' came from, so I know it was real.  As a back up I check with on-line sources.

I recommend using dedicated sites rather than simply typing into the search engine of your choice, or checking out a wiki.  Both are good, but the professional lexicographers and their sites offer far more than just giving you a meaning.  My preferred two are:  Oxford Dictionaries and Collins Dictionaries.

OK, most provide thesauruses, grammar tips and some translation and these do too.  However, I have found nice little extras.

Oxford Dictionaries has sections on quotes, phase meanings, word origins, I find myself exploring the site for ages after the original word meaning has been fully understood and probably forgotten.  Hey, I used - OK, I still do - word surf paper dictionaries, it's a weakness.

So what about my title to this blog?  I discovered on the Collins's site a 'Word Usage Trend' indicator for every word you look up (it's near the bottom of the page).  It shows the trend over 10 years; however, there is a pull down so you can look at the frequency of use over 300 years.  Tenderness, the word, peaked in frequency around 1828 then has been on a gradual slide ever since.  If you put in 'impatience' you'll see it peaks a little earlier then declines.

Is this a laziness in word usage?  I don't know.  Have there been new, better words superseding old ones?  Maybe.  I don't know the reason, I do know that over 300 years there have been a lot more words created and a lot more things written, much thanks to the Internet, which might dilute frequency of word usage.  It doesn't really matter its just a cool feature.  When you next look up a meaning or spelling, check out how it is trending, not over the last five seconds on Twitter, but over three centuries.

By the way, I then tried to think of a word where its usage was rising, my best so far was 'mobile' for obvious reasons.

Useful Links

Oxford Dictionaries

Collins Dictionaries

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Inspiration from all directions

Everyone should look for all kinds of inspiration (this will eventually lead to chickens, honestly).   I reckon its the best exercise for the mind, even if you don't want to create something.   +Scott Robertson is a brilliant concept artist and his books are full of ideas and how to develop ones of your own.  He also has a great YouTube channel where he shares his advice and experience.    It's well worth reading his books or simply visiting his channel.  Recently he produced a video about Chris Ayres.  He is another artist of great skill with an inspiring story.  Search for him and his 'Daily Zoo' books, or find the video.

Anyway it lead me to sketch a silly picture about my neighbour's cockerel.  In my very urban life I like to here it crowing, I thought the hens might not.  Here's the picture, I hope you like it.  Inspiration is a wonderful thing.