Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Website for Word Lovers

I love words, looking them up in dictionaries, moving them around in a sentence just to see what happens. In the writing class I teach at juvenile hall, I frequently challenge the kids to open a book at random, pick a half dozen words and make a poem out of it. Try it yourself sometime when you need inspiration.

Knowing about my word fixation, my friend Susie told me about this great web site that takes "found poetry" to a new level.

Now I'm addicted; it's better than computer Solitaire for avoiding getting down to real work. Wordcount (www.wordcount.org) is described as an "interactive presentation of the 86,800 most frequently used English words."

In case you're wondering, THE is #1 and CONQUISTADOR ("a leader in the Spanish conquest of America and esp. of Mexico and Peru in the 16th century") is #86,800. Those are the guys with the weird hats.

Go to the site, launch Wordcount, and start by filling in the word of your choice. What you get is your chosen word with its ranking, followed by the four or five next in order. When I plugged in my name -- Jill -- it came up at the 8,335 spot. The words around it created a mysterious poem with a definite religious flavor.


(I imagine my personal warning angel looking like actress Emma Thompson in "Angels in America.")


Try it yourself and then post your findings here. I'd love to see the results of your random poetry.

A warning to parents: Yes, pretty much any off-color word that you can imagine is included on Wordcount. We English-speakers definitely use them a lot. For example, the SH** word (#4499) follows right after TAXI.

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