Another way to generate text #4: “dictionary clusters”

First, we pick a random word from the dictionary. Let’s go with “narwhal.”

NAR·WHAL: noun. a small arctic whale, Monodon monoceros, the male of which has a long, spirally twisted tusk extending forward from the upper jaw. Also, nar·wal, nar·whale. Origin: 1650–60;  < Scandinavian;  compare Norwegian, Swedish, Danish nar (h) val, reshaped from Old Norse nāhvalr, equivalent to nār  corpse + hvalr whale1 ; allegedly so called because its skin resembles that of a human corpse

We now list all the unique words:

arctic, corpse, Danish, extending, forward, corpse, jaw, long, male, Monodon monoceros, Norwegian, resembles, Scandinavian, skin, small, spirally, Swedish, tusk, twisted, upper whale

… then look up each one. This does take some time, and generates a lot of text, but it’s also educational and (I think) fun:


Craft Notes / 15 Comments
May 31st, 2012 / 8:01 am

Slate is claiming an exclusive on this list of “The words David Foster Wallace circled in his dictionary.” So if that’s something you’d like to know about, you can know about it now.