February 9, 2011

Are you a word nerd?


British newspaper, The Times, has developed an extremely useful and important tool for evaluating the breadth of your vocabulary based on your Tweets. The Word Nerd system allows you to enter the Twitter username of your choice, and the tool calculates your score, giving you a rating of either: Word-Weary, Word-Wise, Wordsmith or the highest honour, Word Nerd. According to the Word Nerd website, your last 100 Tweets are scanned to calculate your score, and the higher your number, the more varied and distinctive your vocabulary.

“A custom algorithm then calculates the distinctiveness of the words you’ve used by examining how frequently each appears across the books from which Google’s NGram database is derived. (A word that appears more frequently scores lower, and vice versa.)

You are given an ‘overall score’ based on the distinctiveness of each individual word in your tweets, and ranked in one of four ‘performance quartiles’.”

I thought we should test out the Word Nerd tool on some Melville House authors with Twitter accounts. In order of lowest to highest, we have:

@Tao_Lin with a score of 436 – Word Wise, with words such as: zombielike, blowjobs, pooping, tiredly and bleakest.

@UtterlySpurious (that’s Lars Iyer) earns a score of 469 – Word Wise, thanks to words such as: impertinences, carillon, insufficiencies, careerist and buffoonery.

However the winner is @LeeRourke with a score of 535 – Word Nerd, thanks to words such as: yonks, yikes, topman, slagging and yay.

Out of fairness I also scored the @MelvilleHouse Twitter account, which has a respectable score of 470 – Word Wise. Words included: freaking, cockfight, staggeringly, heartbreaking and condiment.

In future we’ll have to endeavour to ameliorate our score.