A few weeks ago, I told you about a dictionary on steroids (see here). Today’s post is about a multilingual semantic map and thesaurus on steroids! It’s called the Sketch Engine. At present it can be used in 42 languages.
The Sketch Engine is an awesome tool. It is extremely useful for everyone who manipulates words and needs ideas.
Here are just a few examples of how it can be used:
– To create brand names: The Most Powerful Naming Tool I’ve Ever Used
– To help translators looking for collocations (the words that ‘sound right’ together)
– To give inspiration to lawyers when wording their pleadings
– To help academics when writing papers or theses
– To help journalists and authors get around ‘writer’s block’
– For non-native speakers of a language to check which words are used together and how
The screenshot below shows a Word Sketch for the word “encumbrance”. You can see which other words (verbs, adjectives, adverbs) are often used with it, and which words are its partners in binomials – with and/or (e.g. lien or encumbrance). You can also be presented with a thesaurus list (see screenshot at the end of this post).
This particular word ‘map’ or “Sketch” has been generated from a collection of texts (a ‘corpus’) of 2.75 billion words. Even with that number of words, the Sketch was returned in seconds (and my Internet connection can hardly be called lightning fast!).
Access to Sketch Engine costs £50 per year for academics, £75 for freelance translators, and from £125 for commercial use. In my opinion you can recoup that investment in one day, just in the time you save trying to find the “right word that fits in” or answering the question “What is that word I’m looking for?”
You can register for a free 30-day trial and see what you think. Chances are that you will subscribe before the end of the first week! (By the way, I’m not on commission here!) Let me know what happens if you decide to try it out!
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