Saturday, March 06, 2010

Word patterns

I attended a talk Temple Grandin gave at the Harvard Book Store a number of years ago.  Her presentation was fascinating -- I walked away with plenty of things to think about.

For example, she described her experience with “conversation loops”, bits of conversations she would repeat over and over to anybody who would sit still long enough to listen.  Eventually she figured out that people found this behavior annoying and remedied this, not by getting rid of the loops, but by increasing the length of her tracks.

I do this.  Perhaps it’s not in the same way or to the same degree, but I tend to create sets of words or phrases that get significant amounts of “air time”.   Often, I’m not fully aware of these word ruts until they begin to weave their way into colleagues’ vocabulary.



A few days ago, while re-reading something I had just written, it occurred to me that I have been using the word “brim” quite a bit lately.  This piqued my curiosity – I wondered what word ruts have been making their way into my blog.

I used Wordle to create word clouds from the text of my 2010 posts to date.  Thinking once again of Temple Grandin, I wondered how different the word clouds would appear if I limited the clouds to just a few words (a short track) versus many words (a long track).

I’m relieved that I kind of like the results.

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