Tools for analysing vocabulary within texts

Various online tools can tell you a thing or two about the vocabulary used in a particular text.  To provide a concrete example of how these work, I’m using a piece from the Economist on the legacy of the Bretton Woods Agreements.

Wordle clouds seem to be everywhere these days, and perhaps it’s not surprising when you consider how neat yet simple a tool Wordle is.  Copy and paste text and Wordle processes it, removing common function words, and counting the frequency of lexical items.  It then produces a visual “cloud” of words, each sized according to their frequency within the text.  Designs can be randomised or tweaked until they meet the user’s approval, after which they can be printed to PDF, saved and linked to, or embedded in a website, like this:

Wordle: bretton woods

As well as being very pretty, Wordle clouds have a nice application in class: students can be shown a cloud in order to predict content before reading, and if any prominent words are completely unknown, they can be checked and discussed prior to any sight of the original text. Continue reading “Tools for analysing vocabulary within texts”