Gerrit Storms reports on an interesting linguistic research project in which you can participate! Here’s the description:
Over the past few weeks, we have been trying to set up a scientific study that is important for many researchers interested in words, word meaning, semantics, and cognitive science in general. It is a huge word association project, in which people are asked to participate in a small task that doesn’t last longer than 5 minutes. Our goal is to build a global word association network that contains connections between about 40,000 words, the size of the lexicon of an average adult. Setting up such a network might learn us a lot about semantic memory, how it develops, and maybe also about how it can deteriorate (like in Alzheimer’s disease). Most people enjoy doing the task, but we need thousands of participants to succeed. Up till today, we found about 53,000 participants willing to do the little task, but we need more subjects. That is why we address you. Would it be possible to forward this call for participation to graduate and undergraduate students who are fluent in English?
The task can be found here.
I tried it myself—it only took a couple minutes. I only had two problems:
1. For each word, you are supposed to give three spontaneous associations. I find it difficult to give more than one, or at times two, spontaneous word associations. After that, it’s no longer spontaneous. I started to get tangled up in a concern of whether I should be giving synonyms or just related words.
2. My internet connection was slow when I was filling out the forms. Sometimes I was clicking and nothing was happening, other times it whipped through words too fast for me to follow.
P.S. Gerrit also writes:
If people would REALLY like to help us, they can forward the call to students, friends, family, etc. or distribute the call through facebook, twitter, etc. (In this way, we succeeded in building a word association network in Dutch over the past years. The network comprises about 13,000 words and was built using more than 4 million word associations, gathered from 100,000 native Dutch speakers. The problem is only: who cares about Dutch data. That is why we want to do the same in English.) Any suggestion about how to reach more participants is welcome (societies that we can e-mail, local communities who want to put this on their website, . . .)
Of course the network will be freely available to all interested language researchers when it becomes substantial enough.