Battle with WordHoard? Challenge Accepted

I rescind my earlier statement. The greatest limitation to WordHoard is not its user. It is definitely the fact that to get any results, you almost need to know exactly what you are looking for. This is problematic when you have a big, general question to ask and are trying to find smaller threads of thought to follow.

Luckily, I didn’t have a really big general question. My group and I started out by thinking of a general question from which we could each follow individual questions and then compile our results to answer the big question. Solid plan. If only it was that easy.

I’m exploring if/how Gertrude acts differently towards Hamlet when Polonius is in the scene vs when he’s dead. After tackling WordHoard until it submitted to my searches, I became quite hopeful about getting results. Before sitting down in front of my laptop, I compiled a list of words to search, thinking it would be easy. Type in the words, select gender, scene, etc to narrow down my search, get some good results, go to my group meeting this morning shining with pride at my achievements and masterment of WordHoard. Nope. Every word I had brainstormed about being helpful to find yielded no results. I became quite familiar with the “0 results” screen.

Okay, time to get creative. I started randomly messing around on WordHoard (clicking buttons and searching for things under the dropdown menus that I didn’t understand, such as the “xx”, “vv”, etc.). This also gave me zilch. Right. Got to start deeper thinking. I refuse to let this program stymie me.

How to see if Gertrude reacts to Hamlet differently? I could look for tone. Alright. How do I search for tone when WordHoard only searches words? I need positive and negative words. Yes, this makes sense. However, there are no really distinguishing words for being positive used in Shakespeare. But I can search “not”, and I did.

By comparing these results, I can tell that Gertrude is neither more or less negative before or after Polonius dies, as is Hamlet. So her son being a murderer does not send her into despair. Good that I’m finally getting somewhere with WordHoard, however this isn’t particularly helpful, as reading the text tells me much the same. Only here it is broken down into exact numbers.

On to another vein of thought. What happens when I search how many times someone says “Hamlet”? I get this:

Except for the highlighted line (said by the Ghost), Gertrude is the one saying “Hamlet”. So she says it five times. Not particularly great results on its own. But, WordHoard does provide context for every searched word. Now, looking at how Gertrude addresses Hamlet/ speaks to him around saying his name, there is a better idea of how she feels towards him. When Polonius is still alive, she questions him, as Polonius expects her to. After Hamlet kills him though, it is interesting to see that she refers to him as “sweet Hamlet” or “O, Hamlet!”. Not the words of a mother horrified about what her son has done, which corroborates my earlier findings with “not”. So far, so good. Also, to answer my question, there is a definite difference between how she treats him with Polonius in the room and with him dead. Without him in the room, she seems to be more openly affectionate with him. The question now is what type of affection? This is hopefully going to be answered by the corroboration of mine and my group members efforts.




2 thoughts on “Battle with WordHoard? Challenge Accepted

  1. Hi,
    Maybe I should have chosen another tool to comment on, but for right now I guess I’ll just stick with WordHoard… maybe I’ll do another comment later on.

    Anyway, I see that you now say: ‘The greatest limitation of WordHoard is not its user’; I don’t know if I should really go against this statement (as also I can see what you’re saying), but I was sort of feeling that, with WordHoard, it really could ‘be’ the user who is the limitation here (or maybe not, or maybe that’s true for all things really). For instance, we can look up certain words, but perhaps these words weren’t really the best choice, or maybe we can search multiple words if only we had better understanding of words (such as the ‘parts of speech’ drop down or what all the ‘word classes’ are actually good for). If one user had a better grasp of what is the ‘right’ or ‘best’ thing to search, how best to search it too, and then also knew what to compare that to, then maybe it really is the user who is at work here, and not necessarily WordHoards searches. But then, that also comes back to our feeling that we need to know ‘what’ to search anyway (lol), and the difficulty with thinking of it, and I definitely agree there. It is difficult to do the searches, I think, but I guess with more trials and errors eventually we can find something good. I also thought it would be easy finding things, then it turned around on me.

    I just noticed (perhaps this is a little irrelevant again), but with some of the other programs, there is a little bit more trouble in searching out words, whereas WordHoard seems an easier time. I think this is the area WordHoard excels in, which is searching, finding, perhaps a little comparing, words. I also noticed that some of the other tools, I can’t remember which, they were having a little trouble with finding the context of the words. I think this can also be WordHoards benefit, and could also maybe help the other tools. I first thought looking through the context was a hassle (well, for WordHoard it may be), but perhaps combined with other groups tools who need the context, it could be useful.

    Next, to your actual post and findings, I really liked how you thought to search for ‘not’. I hadn’t thought of this, and so I really liked this method in order to try and find positive/negative tone. Here I was thinking I had to search for ‘big’ words when the words could have been small and still hold meaning. I also like how it says something about Hamlet/Gertrude’s negativity. You can see Hamlet being negative in the text, but I was having trouble distinguishing the words whereas you just used ‘not’ (I also think paige once mentioned a ‘negative’ search drop down too which I didn’t notice). Anyways, I thought it was a great idea and it showed interesting results. I didn’t know what some of the drop downs were meaning, so I pretty much ignored them (bad on my part). Overall, this was a good post, it made me think about some different ways to search, which is always helpful C:

  2. Did you ever find out what the “vv” etc. meant? I messed around a bit with WordHoard while trying to better understand my tools capabilities and I found the drop down menus as confusing as many of ours. “Verb, er… verb,” perhaps? Unfortunate that you cannot look up tonality of characters – what about “murder/murderer?” It seems difficult to say either in a sprightly context 😉

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