StringNet tip: Everything is ‘clickable’

In May of this year we released StringNet 3.0 (SN 3.0), our latest version. To use it, click here. The new version includes a number of features not in earlier versions, and not all of them are as intuitive to use as we’d like. So we’ll be posting here information, suggestions, tips about those features and about ways of using SN 3.0 for a variety of purposes.

We’ll announce new postings by email to those on our mailing list. If you aren’t on our mailing list and want to be, go to the bottom of this page.

Our first tip: “CLICK ON ANYTHING”

SN takes a word or words as a query and returns a list of patterns (what we call ‘hybrid n-grams’) in which the submitted word is conventionally used or the submitted words are conventionally used together.

An important new feature of SN 3.o is that we’ve tried to make almost everything in the SN search results clickable. This clickability gets you from the ‘flat’ list of patterns given in the search results into StringNet as a net. It’s our way of linking from patterns or from any word or slot in a pattern to other related patterns and words and slots. Again, this is what makes StringNet a navigable ‘net’. Here we show one sort of clicking. (We’ll describe others in future posts.)

Example: Click on any word in a pattern. The screen shot below is taken from results for the query word “factor.” The red box marks one of those patterns: “a complicating factor.” Notice that the word “complicating” is highlighted in green. This is what happens when a user mouses over that word (or any word in any pattern). It turns green (and the cursor turns into the ‘pointing finger’ icon) as our invitation to click on that word to see the competition for that slot, that is, to see what other words could appear in that exact same slot (as attested in BNC). Clicking on the highlighted word triggers the pop-up shown below. In this case, the pop-up lists “Words that can replace ‘complicating’ here (i.e., in ‘a ____ factor’).”

Clicking around can uncover some noteworthy phenomena. For example, the list of words that can replace ‘complicating’ in ‘a complicating factor’ (shown partially in the pop-up) is rather long, with a roughly Zipf-like distribution up front and a long, flat tail (903 tokens of 147 different words on this list of competition for that slot). Only 13 of the 903 tokens are instances of ‘complicating’. That’s the picture for the slot modifying ‘factor’. But ‘click on anything’ allows us to click on ‘factor’ as well in this same pattern ‘a complicating factor’ so we can see its competition, what else the modifier ‘complicating’ can modify here. And it’s quite a different sort of list. It’s a list of one– “factor” is the only noun that “complicating” modifies in this context. (This relative frozen-ness of factor in this slot happens to account for why ‘a complicating factor’ is ranked rather high on the list of patterns for the query of ‘factor’.)

Hope this gives a taste of how clicking opens up some access to StringNet as a net. In future posts I’ll describe more entry points to StringNet that clicking creates.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply