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Friday, March 29, 2013

Word Study Tool Sorting

If you use the word study tool, occasionally you'll notice that a word that can be derived from multiple entries (that is, it could be an adjective, a noun, and a participle -- or perhaps it's homonymous with another word), you might see the many words in an apparently random order. At that point, which one do you choose?

I was reading some Apuleius today and I made a simple realization when working with the word Milesio in the first paragraph. The very rare word "milesium" (a kind of kingfisher) was popping up as the first definition and that was clearly wrong. 

I thought on it for a moment and wondered how to make the much more common "Milesius" first. Then I realized something: Words which are more common in the dictionary typically have more definitions, more citations, and so on and so forth. Without any sort of intelligent algorithm, I simply sorted by longest dictionary entry to shortest dictionary entry. Voila! 

Naturally this solution won't help those Latin readers who are hoping to get some insight into rare forms, but it should help the majority of casual readers to get the see the most likely answer first. 

Feedback? Please let me know. 

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