AntWordProfiler short review

I have been playing with Laurence Anthony’s AntWordProfiler for a bit now. It is a corpus linguistic tool to “profile” coverage of texts in terms of comprehensibility particularly for reading in a second language. To understand how it works one must understand its predecessor Range by Paul Nation.

Paul Nation is a researcher in Vocabulary Acquisition a subfield in Applied Linguistics. His interest was mainly how much coverage of a text is needed before vocabulary can be acquired from reading without the aid of dictionaries and from textual context alone. To this end he created a the Range program. The Range program has two main functions: 1) to show the distribution of words across mutliple files or texts, and 2) to show how much of the text is covered by carefully designed wordlists based on frequency or knowledge. It does this by number crunching and showing this through statistics.

AntWordProfiler essentially does the same thing but is an upgrade in terms of functionality. Instead of just statistics we can now look at coverage in the text itself. And with a little tweaking of the word definition you can make AntWordProfiler mirror the Range program’s  (and AntConc’s) results.

Again, Mr Anthony has come up with a slick and easy-to-use product. The controls are less intuitive than AntConc (but more so than the Range program) but still it does not take much to figure out the functions.

The selling points, for me, are:

  1. the ability to creating identical results with other products thus making research results compatible and comparable;
  2. transferability of its results in plain-text to other platforms;
  3. speed (not as fast as AntConc (especially the old versions)) but still fast, and;
  4. the ability to process large volumes of text (Range crashes at about 250,000 tokens)

This is the tool to use if you need to profile texts or look at type occurrence over multiple files.

[Update] Mr Anthony has kindly pointed out two omissions to me – that AntWordProfiler is free (yes, free!) to use, and that it is available on different platforms (Windows, Mac OS X and Linux) which Range is not.

Playing with the ix500

Bought a Fujitsu ix500 scanner last week. Wow! I don’t know how I had lived without this incredible machine for so long.

The scanning is so quick – 30 pages double-sided in a minute. By default it saves as PDF. But one click and it is converted into a Word document. I scanned a novel (for research purposes) into what used to take me the better half of a day. Now it is finished in just 10 minutes. You have to use destructive scanning though but that is a small price to pay (if the book is commercial paperback, of course) for having the scanning done in literally a fraction of the time.

I had planned to use it for corpus building only but the use of this machine goes well beyond that. Very useful for work, research and teaching.

More on this later.