Home > No. 52 Search (Engine) Tools

No. 52 Search (Engine) Tools (2009年11月10日)

カテゴリー: The Treasure Hunt Club
Marcel Van Amelsvoort
(Kanagawa Prefectural College of Foreign Studies)
This month I’d like to focus on some search tools that mostly
specialize in vocabulary. I don’t feel really comfortable using the
term “search engine” since most people associate that with the

Google-powered tool that sits prominently somewhere on the page that
opens when you launch your browser. But most people are now making use
of multiple search tools―Google books, image or video search tools,
etc.―on a daily basis and just as you would use certain search tools
to search for images, the tools here can be used to help you
investigate and better understand lexical items (words, phrases, or
longer fixed expressions).

First and most impressive this month is Visuwords. Type in a word or
phrase and get a visual “map” of the word’s meanings and associations.
Hover your cursor over any term to get more explanation or
definitions. This must be seen to be believed. You will be impressed:
I promise. http://www.visuwords.com/

Next is ERek, a search tool that brings up instances or examples from
either the whole web or only .edu (academic) sites or only news sites.
This can be very helpful in identifying collocations or just seeing
how the lexical item is used. A great tool. http://erek.ta2o.net/

Amazon.com allows you to search inside many books. If you would like
some good examples of a lexical item in use in a certain area
(economics, TESOL, etc.) you just choose a book in that area and
search in the book for your item. For example, I just chose the book
Understanding Motivation and Emotion by Johnmarshall Reeve (Wiley) and
did a search for the word “identity.” My search produced 30 examples
from the book. http://www.amazon.com/

If you would like to know how two similar terms (start vs. begin, for
example) compare in usage volume (frequency) on the web, Googlefight
can help you. Just input the two terms and the system returns the
number of times they can be found on the web. This can also be used to
check out cultural items (hambuger vs. hot dog, or Pokemon vs.
Dragonball, for example). http://www.googlefight.com/

And finally, there is a new search engine in development that may just
be the way all search engines work in the future. It is called Wolfram
Alpha. It tries to understand your questions and return data in a way
that matches your needs. It is still in development, but vocabulary
searches seem to work well. If you search for a term, you get
definitions, origins, frequency information (written and spoken),
pronunciation, and much more. Give it a try and taste the future.

That’s it for this month.