Tag Archives: dictionary

Shahi – A visual dictionary

Have you noticed that the world is becoming increasingly visual? Well, that’s OK with me because I actually understand things better when text is accompanied with images. I’m sure I’m not the only one. In the learning realm, images – either still or moving – aid and enhance textual presentation: photos, maps, film, video clip, images on websites, visual search engines – and now a visual dictionary: Shahi.

Shahi is a visual dictionary that combines Wiktionary content with Flickr images, and more!

What I like about Shahi is the different perspectives you get from the same word. Let’s take the example ‘racism’. Here is one of the results; I like the humour and originality:

The word ‘dangerous’ yielded these results amongst others:

and this:

Definitely not what I expected!

Thought I’d try a verb – collaborate:

Never know what you’ll find.

As a teacher librarian I’m thinking of collecting images to go with fiction genres. Here’s fantasy:

What about crime?

A metaphorical meaning: photography is not a crime

Classroom possibilities beg to be discovered! Comparison of different interpretations of the same picture, guessing games, inspiration for students’ own images to accompany words, springboard for creative writing, collaborative slide presentations on a theme or message, and so on.

Thanks to Amanda for sharing this.

By the way, this reminds me of a post from a while ago,  A picture’s worth a thousand words.

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Filed under 21st century learning, creativity, flickr, photos

A limerick for all occasions, but in a dictionary?

spaceodyssey

In the spirit of holidays, I thought I’d tone down the intensity of my posts – seriousness interfering with the holiday spirit…

Reading through Articulate, I found The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form (OEDILF).

The goal of The OEDILF, our online limerictionary, is to write at least one limerick for each and every meaning of each and every word in the English language. Our best limericks will clearly define their words in a humorous or interesting way, although some may provide more entertainment than definition, or vice versa.

Look up a word, browse by author or topic/genre, or join the project to submit original limericks.

There’s an impressive list of topics/genres.

Here’s an example of what you’ll find:

If you look up the word anticlimactic, you find this limerick:

In picking up women, my tactic?

I promise adventures galactic

We watch Lost in space

When we’re back at my place

Which they find to be anticlimactic

 

Here is one result for genres: science fiction:  

asphyxiate by mephistopheles (Limerick #8004)

Though you’re weightless and moving with grace,

You’ll asphyxiate here, out in space.

Is your very best pal

a computer named Hal?

You could die here and leave not a trace.

 

And some background is included:  In Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1968 film, 2001, a Space Odyssey, an astronaut, Dave, was famously locked out of the spaceship by a malfunctioning computer named Hal. If Dave had not succeeded in getting back onto the ship, he would have died when he ran out of air.

Lots of possibilties with this dictionary, both educational and recreational. For the sake of holidays I’ll abstain from the usual heavy-handed instructions.

One more under ‘ballet’

Her willowy arms flutter slightly,
Her feathered white head drops down lightly.
Alas for Odette,
Men who love soon forget.
Thus, she’s dying in Swan Lake once nightly.
…Except on Mondays, and twice on matinees.

There.

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Filed under 21st century learning, creativity, Education, humour, play, poetry, writing

Words come to life in Wordia

oscarpuppet

I love the idea of a dictionary created by many people, but Wordia is more than that. It’s a media dictionary created by people sharing their own videos. It’s people talking on video about a word that they’ve chosen. So it’s much more than a definition. Watch Oscar Puppet’s video defining the word ‘buncombe’ and you’ll see that it’s just as much about the person (or character) behind the chosen word – it’s a word definition with personality.

What else is Wordia?

It’s a community of people who, for one reason or another, care about a word enough to spend time making a short film to explain their chosen word.

wordiacommunity

You, too, could join this collection of people who make this media dictionary. This is what you have to do:

wordiainstructions

 Wordia is in beta and is far from comprehensive. There’s something good about a brilliant, new idea in the making, especially when anyone is invited to contribute.

I got sick of searching for words that weren’t there so I browsed using the ‘words’ tab. There’s a list of ‘best words’ and that’s how I came across the definition for ‘fermata’. Very entertaining.

Wordia has it all. Aside from the obligatory dictionary definitions on the page, the list of synonyms, you also get comments from people, making Wordia not so much a dictionary as a linguistic peopleonary.

There are many ideas for the English classroom here. Apart from the kids watching or making their own Wordia clip, you could discuss which videos work best and why, or how the video presentations could be improved, or you could get the kids to choose 5 words they didn’t previously know, or 5 words that sound the most ridiculous, or 5 legal words, 5 words associated with emotions, etc. You get my drift.

Have a look for yourselves and tell me what you think.

 

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Filed under creativity, Education, film, humour, language, learning, play, teachers, teaching, Web 2.0

Dictionary evangelist – redefining the dictionary

Erin McKean does more than redefine the dictionary in her TED talk; she redefines our concept of language. She says that our idea of what a dictionary is hasn’t changed since Queen Victoria’s times – we have the idea that a dictionary contains the ‘good’ words (the ‘real’ ones) and keeps out the bad words (‘not real words’). That’s what she finds frustrating about her perceived role as lexicographer – that she is seen as a traffic cop, whereas she’d rather be a fisherman (yes, she used ‘man’). 

But, I hear you say, dictonaries have changed, they’ve come online, they are well connected; they have hyperlinks. Well, according to Erin, an online dictionary has essentially remained unchanged – it’s just a Victorian design with a modern propulsion.

What Erin challenges the audience to do is to rethink ‘good word’/’bad word’. She says when people find a word that isn’t in the dictionary, they think it’s because it’s a ‘bad word’ (think Scrabble), but actually, it’s not in there because the dictionary is too small. The book is not the best shape for the dictionary.

Erin challenges us to look past the artificial constraints of the book-form dictionary; we should study ALL the words. So how do we know that a word is ‘real’? She says, if you love a word, use it. Using it makes it real. It’s less about control and more about description. New words are everywhere, and Boing Boing is an example of the use of ‘undictionaried’ words. Erin suggests we look at the English dictionary as a map of the English language. An antiquated map of the world only contained what we ‘knew’ at that time, but there was much more to discover. As Erin says, when we left out countries in the old maps, we didn’t even know they were missing. So too with words.

And so Erin McKean is in the business of collecting words. She says that words need to be collected with all their background information – a word is ‘like an archaeological artefact’, and ‘a word without a source is like a cut flower – it dies fast’.

Well, I’m swept up by the evangelistic fervour of this New Age lexicographer, but do I dare embrace the new lexicographical freedom and risk chaos? Can we open up the business of word making to the masses when it has traditionally been the hallowed role of unseen word geeks? But then again, Wikipedia has opened up the font of knowledge, and the world hasn’t collapsed yet.

And I recommend Erin’s blog, Dictionary evangelist if you want to discover the unchartered seas of 21st century language. Here, instead of talking about a word’s etymology, Erin delights in its ‘roots, bones, innards, pips, and secret parts’. Or read about the acceptance of new words like ‘chillax’ in Erin’s article in the Boston Globe.

And let’s have some fun with words. To quote Erin, ‘if it works like a word, just use it’.

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