WordWanderer: A text analysis tool


Here’s a fun tool called Word Wanderer you can use to explore connections between different words in any text.
You can paste in any text you like here, and use your own, which is most interesting.
But here there are some example texts you can use to show how it works.
So here we’ll pick Hansel and Gretel, classic fairy tale, and click the wander button.
And it’s now processing the text.
And the first thing you see is this word cloud, in which you see some of the more prominent words in the text arranged.
They’re in alphabetical order from top left to bottom right.
But what really stands out, of course, is the size of the words is proportional to how common the words are in the text.
So right away, you can see the words that are most repeated showing up as larger.
So not surprisingly, the story of Hansel and Gretel, you see Hansel and Gretel stand out as very frequent.
Seeing words like children, in the forest, little: so you really can start to get some clues as to what the whole story is about simply by looking at the word cloud.
It’d be fun to maybe even try to guess different stories based on seeing word clouds like this.
Now one thing I like to do is to go to the options.
And you may see that some of these selections may be different in the default.
The default would include these words in the middle here, which are these more common, functional words.
They tend to not have a lot of content.
They are sometimes called grammatical words, because they’re there for the grammar.
They’re there to connect other words, and, you know, construct them into sentences, but they tend to have less real content, real meaningful, interesting content.
And they also tend to be quite frequent, so they can kind of distort the picture of the word cloud, giving you words that you don’t really care about.
Same thing you see down here, like common words, the, is, at, in, of: these words will be very common in almost any English text, and they won’t really tell you much interesting about that particular text.
So usually you hide them.
And you can also, if you see other words showing up, sometimes maybe some kind of formatting, some kind of strange words that don’t really fit that are showing up, then you can also manually enter the words that will be ignored, so you can focus on the words you want to.
Usually most of the words that are interesting will be in this top left, or the left side here: your nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
Those are the main content, the main meaningful categories of words that contain most of the interesting information.
So you can click to apply that, and now you see the word cloud.
So the next thing you can do is to highlight any of the individual words, and it will start to show you the connections specifically for that word.
So for example, you can click the word home, and now you can see, well, the colours are based on the connections.
So you have home is connected with the word again and the word way.
So immediately, we can think that there’s something to do with going home again, or finding the way home.
And if you click on the word, you now get a centered view that shows the same information, but now it’s a whole chart specifically for that word.
So what are the words that are connected with it.
It’s alphabetical from the top to the bottom, but from the left to the right, it’s the position in the sentence.
So on the left, you would see words that would appear earlier, before it, and on the right, words that appear after it.
So clearly you can imagine like “the way home” and certainly the phrase “home again”, “show you the way home”, “take you home”.
So this is specifically for the word home.
And then you can click again or press Escape to return to the main view.
And now the last thing you can do with this is you can actually get a, you can make a comparison of two different words.
So let’s, you know, pick any two.
They have to have enough, they have to be frequent enough, to be selectable.
But let’s try maybe we can take the word home and the word forest.
Nope, that’s not going to work.
So let’s, OK, we need to pick more frequent words.
So how about we can pick morning and evening?
OK, so now we can see that, OK, morning, the children, children in the morning.
Well, this is not enough information to get much.
So you see here there’s only a few words.
So based on these two, you can’t really get a clear picture of it, of, you know, what’s going on there.
So OK, how about we take the word bread and house.
OK, so now you can see the bread covered.
Oo, covered with bread.
Ah, but once again, see, this, it really is quite mysterious, these connections, you know.
So not seeing anything clear show up.
OK, so we’ll just go for the obvious one, and let’s compare Hansel and Gretel.
OK, so here we have many words to work with, because these words are more common, so you can actually get a bit more of a picture here.
So you see Gretel certainly is doing a lot of eating.
So Gretel’s connected with eating, and also death.
So these words that are on the left will be more connected with the left word, and the words on the right more connected with the the right word, as in they appear closer together more frequently.
So here we have, OK, maybe the pearls is maybe Gretel has the pearls.
And we see here by highlighting each of them, you’ll see the words closer.
Of course, like words like precious stones appear connected to the word pearls.
And then you see all these ones in the middle.
And over on the right, fat.
Well, Gretel is eating, but Hansel is fat.
OK, so as well.
And also here in the forest.
Somehow this word is most connected with Hansel.
So yeah, this is just an example for this story.
But if you apply your own text to this you may find some interesting patterns in how your words are connected.

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