Language DNA: Visualizing a language decomposition

Adam James Bradley, Travis Kirton, Mark Hancock, and Sheelagh Carpendale. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 10(4), 2016.

Publication and Related Materials


In the Digital Humanities, there is a fast-growing body of research that uses data visualization to explore the structures of language. While new techniques are proliferating they still fall short of offering whole language experimentation. We provide a mathematical technique that maps words and symbols to ordered unique numerical values, showing that this mapping is one-to-one and onto. We demonstrate this technique through linear, planar, and volumetric visualizations of data sets as large as the Oxford English Dictionary and as small as a single poem. The visualizations of this space have been designed to engage the viewer in the analogic practice of comparison already in use by literary critics but on a scale inaccessible by other means. We studied our visualization with expert participants from many fields including English studies, Information Visualization, Human-Computer Interaction, and Computer Graphics. We present our findings from this study and discuss both the criticisms and validations of our approach.

Bibtex entry

@ARTICLE { Bradley:2016:LDNA,
    AUTHOR = { Adam James Bradley and Travis Kirton and Mark Hancock and Sheelagh Carpendale },
    TITLE = { Language {DNA}: Visualizing a language decomposition },
    JOURNAL = { Digital Humanities Quarterly },
    ISSUE_DATE = { 2016 },
    VOLUME = { 10 },
    NUMBER = { 4 },
    YEAR = { 2016 },
    ISSN = { 1938-4122 },