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Definitions before you know you need them
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(+19, -2)
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When reading particularly elevated or technical prose, I sometimes run into words I can't define. When this happens, I try to glean the word's definition from context, and try to remember to look it up in the dictionary later.

I never, ever remember to look up definitions later. The predictionary solves this problem before I even start reading the book.

The predictionary, on first activation, quizzes its user on a list of, say, fifty words. Based on the user's responses, the predictionary is given a rough estimate of his vocabulary level. When the user prepares to read a book which may contain challenging vocabulary, he feeds its etext into the predictionary, which returns a list of all words it calculates as likely to give the user trouble, with their definitions.

The predictionary also serves as a traditional dictionary; the user's searches, along with his choice of reading material, provide additional feedback that allows the device to continuously refine its estimate of the user's vocabulary level.

Networked predictionaries share data on commonly-requested definitions, correlating data in a helpful manner ("users that know `apogee' are likely to also know `nadir'; users that don't know `gravitas' will likely need help with `non sequitur'").

SonicAtrocities, Mar 06 2006


       Excellent. Let me be the first to welcome you.   

       wouldn't it be easier to add a glossary of *all* terminolgy and jargon used in document, which the reader can refer to as needed?
xaviergisz, Mar 06 2006

       What xavier said. There are several plug-in online dictionaries hat provide this service, looking up the terms and references on the web page you're looking at on demand.
DrCurry, Mar 06 2006

       I reckon this would be handy as an offline service, with publishers including a '100 most obscure words used in this book' with defintions at the back. It would also be historically interesting to see which words have become more common or less common since the time of writing.
neilp, Mar 06 2006

       xaviergisz: one man's jargon is another man's active vocabulary. A medical journal pertaining to, for example, tooth decay, would likely return an extensive list of definitions if the reader were an accountant. That same list would include many redundant words if the reader were an oral surgeon-- whose own predictionary output would, in turn, omit definitions that the accountant needs.   

       DrCurry: you have a point (the Opera browser, for example, includes a built-in dictionary function), though the "on demand" aspect of such services assumes that the reader will think to activate such a function on the spot.
SonicAtrocities, Mar 06 2006

       //I actually remember an early demonstration of BlueTooth which was to have a ring holding your coffee preferences// - I don't suppose it allowed you to specify "good" did it?   

       A very good idea but not quite as good as the glossary, Mr. AuralCalamity.
wagster, Mar 06 2006

       WOW. It took me almost 30 years to really understand why my teachers in grade school gave us vocabulary words. Thus the predictionary has already been baked under a different name and concept.
Jscotty, Mar 06 2006

       You could sort all the words in the file in reverse order of commonality, then show a page of say 50 at a time. The user can click through the lists till, if necessary, they get to the definitions of "the", "and" and "I".
BunsenHoneydew, Mar 07 2006

       Markov chain EZreaders?
reensure, Mar 07 2006

       Imagine a world without chairs. Nobody ever thought of inventing a chair.   

       Then suddenly someone does and posts it on a website like this. Rest assured [DrCurry] will remind you of the stool we used for thousands of years and ask you: why is that suddenly not good enough eh? It was good enough for my ancestor it is good enough for you.   

       welcome [SonicAtrocities] good idea +
zeno, Mar 08 2006

       Sorry, I forgot to mention [UnaBubba], what can I say? Bow or be smitten, smoten, you know.
zeno, Mar 08 2006

       Oh, we all smit you, [Unabubba].
jurist, Mar 09 2006


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