Challenge: research in the 1000 most common words

| 32 Comments

Here is a list of the 1000 most commonly used words in the English language.

Check it out. See if you can explain your research in these 1000 words.

My try:

I study how things that are different between men and women change over time.


Please add the description of your research in the comments!

32 Comments

“I show people how to work in a safe way. I explain to them how to not get hurt, by doing things the right way rather than the wrong way. I also write directions telling people how to work in a safe way.”

…sounds like a pedantic kindergartner.

I teach vocational safety classes, so I’m used to using simple sentences consisting of Anglo-Saxon monosyllables. I also write policies and work instructions to comply with safety regulations, and act as an internal safety consultant - but a lot of those words aren’t in the list.

Gonna be kind of hard to explain my work without the word “evolution”. I’d need to work out a complicated phrase that I plugged in each time I needed that word. At least they have the word “tree”. They don’t have “gene” or “character” either. They have “computer”, but they don’t have “compute” or “calculate” either. I give up.

One thing that I’d mention is that just because a word is on a “most frequently used” list, that does not mean that the particular meaning of the word is a common usage. Jod Felsenstein mentioned the word “tree”, but I suspect that the technical meaning in “tree of life” is not one of the most common.

This is not my work, but I liked looking at it:

http://xkcd.com/1133/

“I make sure you have power to your house. We have to burn things and this has to be done in a safe way. We have to clean the water before you drink it and we have to take the bad water away after you use it.”

Gee, after all these years I’m finally going to have a good staff meeting on Monday morning!

I look at my favorite computer places and sometimes I tell people they are smart and sometimes I tell people they are stupid.

I am also a teacher of college people.

I find out the relationships of different groups of flying animals.

I notice that even here I have used a complicated idiom, “find out”. And of course this is largely unintelligible when I can’t even use the word “bird”, much less “DNA”. How fortunate that any English speaker older than 3 already has a vocabulary larger than 1000 words.

I study how something may pass from father and mother to son and daughter by blood.

I am a molecular geneticist.

I help kids learn by finding out if they have learned the things that they were supposed to. I write questions and put them in order to make a large group of questions. I then look at how the kids answered the questions and find out if they learned stuff or not and why not.

I learn about how to write better questions and groups of questions that help kids more.

[I can’t believe that “test” is not one of the 1,000 words.)

I try to make hard but beautiful ideas easy to understand. Sometimes this is a struggle, but I think it is important.

“I manage and do work on a well here and there so you can drive your car.”

Well that sounded ridiculous.

“I study things that live in or on other live things and that can sometimes make the other live things sick.” Had to assume that I could use the plural of “thing”. I think I prefer “Parasitologist”,.…..

Yes, we use these commonly used words differently than most people probably do. Even among scientists words have different meanings. “Model” is the one that struck the me most when transitioning from math to biology.

I agree, it does sound ridiculous, and I do prefer more precise terms, but I think it is a good exercise to remind us of how unnecessarily technical our professional language can become.

Win!

petrushka said:

I try to make hard but beautiful ideas easy to understand. Sometimes this is a struggle, but I think it is important.

One of the things my team looks at how much of the stuff that makes things warm is made when different kinds of stuff are brought together so that we can find ways to tell people how to figure out how much of the stuff that makes things warm would be made if they brought their different kinds of stuff together. We also try to figure out how the different kinds of stuff play with each other, and maybe change each other, when they meet, using what we find out about how much and fast the stuff that makes things warm is made.

I take it that words not on the list (or used for a meaning other than the common usage) should be precisely defined, and their usage explained, before being used. And the number of such words should be kept to a minimum, in order to avoid writing a dictionary instead of an essay.

Henry

SWT said:

One of the things my team looks at how much of the stuff that makes things warm is made when different kinds of stuff are brought together so that we can find ways to tell people how to figure out how much of the stuff that makes things warm would be made if they brought their different kinds of stuff together. We also try to figure out how the different kinds of stuff play with each other, and maybe change each other, when they meet, using what we find out about how much and fast the stuff that makes things warm is made.

I think that’s talking about chemical reactions that produce heat, but I wouldn’t swear to it! LOL

Henry

“I lie all the time with ‘facts’ that I simply make up.”

- Ken Ham, Biggy, FL, etc.

Henry J said:

SWT said:

One of the things my team looks at how much of the stuff that makes things warm is made when different kinds of stuff are brought together so that we can find ways to tell people how to figure out how much of the stuff that makes things warm would be made if they brought their different kinds of stuff together. We also try to figure out how the different kinds of stuff play with each other, and maybe change each other, when they meet, using what we find out about how much and fast the stuff that makes things warm is made.

I think that’s talking about chemical reactions that produce heat, but I wouldn’t swear to it! LOL

Henry

One part of my research team works on the thermodynamics of adsorption and absorption, including calorimetric measurement of heats of adsorption/absorption. The description was a little cumbersome because neither “heat” nor “measurement” are on the list of ten hundred words … let alone “activity model” and “conformational change” …

Interesting challenge and comments - Interesting list

The word count is 1000

There is “coffee” but there is no “wine”

There is “blood” but there is no “flesh”

There is “damn” but there is no “devil”, there is “hell” but no “heaven”

There is a God but there is no “soul” no “church” and no “religion” too.

Microsoft word does not accept “gonna” as a correctly spelled word.

In the main body list God and TV are capitalized (as are Mr. Mrs.), there is no television and radio is also dead, The words “fuck” and “love” appear but the list is sans-“sin” and “sex”-less. TRUE is capitalized and appears as the last word, out of sequence, indicating post generation manipulation, but I have another theory about that artifact (involving 1001 and a double word deletion).

Incidentally the “850” word list is “God” less yet “God” appears as 360 frequency in the wiki contemporary fiction list ( goes to 2000 but is non alphabetical so you can stop at 1000) Source is in the root of the 1000 -reference- http://splasho.com/blog/2013/01/17/[…]text-editor/

By my understanding 200 words of most languages are sufficient for rudimentary but functional communication.

“In my job I make the stuff of life but my body can make it better than my brain can”

(DNA RNA and “nucleic acids” don’t make it to the top 1000)

TRUE

The Voice of America has “Special English” for broadcasting to learners of English. It’s vocabulary is restricted to about 1500 words. There is a Wikipedia in “Simple English” with a similar limitation. And there is a “Simplified Technical English” which was designed for writing technical manuals for the aerospace and defense industries.

The WIkipedia article on Simplified Technical English says “The approved words can only be used according to their specified meaning. For example, the word “close” can only be used in one of two meanings:

1. To move together, or to move to a position that stops or prevents materials from going in or out.

2. To operate a circuit breaker to make an electrical circuit.

The verb can be used to express “close a door” or “close a circuit”, but it cannot be used in other senses (for example “to close the meeting” or “to close a business”). The adjective “close” appears in the Dictionary as an unapproved word with the suggested approved alternative “near”. So STE does not allow “do not go close to the landing gear”, but it does allow “do not go near the landing gear”.

I study all kinds of trees around the world, and how they change the air and the land when they use light from the sun to make sweet food in their leaves.

Drew Kerkhoff said:

I study all kinds of trees around the world, and how they change the air and the land when they use light from the sun to make sweet food in their leaves.

Rats - no surprise there’s no “photosynthesis” or “chlorophyll” - but no “sugar”? No “salt” or “fat” or “potato” or “chip.” I would hate write nutritional guidelines given this restriction.

What fun!

I use computers to see what happens when strong winds hit land. I find out if people are going to become under water and warn them.

“become under water?” == get flooded!

I study how animals change over time, and why some animals change faster than others. It looks like animals change fast if they have lots of children, have them quickly, and die early. Some people think that warmer animals change faster too. I’m not sure.

N.B. Most of you will have also seen this, but just in case you haven’t:

http://tenhundredwordsofscience.tumblr.com/

Things change. It matters. Sometimes.

I have no problem with cultural colonialism(it happens), but if you are going to say ‘English language’, at least explain that it is American English. I have no idea what sanitized world this GIT, or GITS, or GITESSES live in, but in my world, DOZY CUNTS who don’t understand everyday ussage of my languge should BUGGER off! It is absolute CRAP to ignore emphasis and say that ‘FUCK’, as a word is not commonly used.(A very useful word, I may add). Is this list from the same people that told me that the film ‘Seven Year Itch’ was great comedy, but that ‘The Life of Brian’ wasn’t? I write this from my FLAT, because apartments are for other people.

Poetic, I love it.

Henry J said:

Things change. It matters. Sometimes.

robert van bakel said:

I have no problem with cultural colonialism(it happens), but if you are going to say ‘English language’, at least explain that it is American English. I have no idea what sanitized world this GIT, or GITS, or GITESSES live in, but in my world, DOZY CUNTS who don’t understand everyday ussage of my languge should BUGGER off! It is absolute CRAP to ignore emphasis and say that ‘FUCK’, as a word is not commonly used.(A very useful word, I may add). Is this list from the same people that told me that the film ‘Seven Year Itch’ was great comedy, but that ‘The Life of Brian’ wasn’t? I write this from my FLAT, because apartments are for other people.

Dude, chillax.

- “Fuck” is on the list, if you checked.

- Not that it really matters, but this American grew up memorizing ‘The Life of Brian’ (I kind of applaud my parents for teaching us kids “Always look on the bright side of life”; I imagine that the duet between my brother and I was pretty awesome, and a welcome break for “The wheels on the bus”). I’ve honestly never heard of ‘Seven Year Itch’.

- The point is about challenging ourselves to communicate in simple terminology. We can sometimes say quite a lot. Let me try to break that down for you in the 1000 most commonly used words:

We are trying to explain what we do in simple words. It can be hard. It isn’t the best way to talk. But, it can help remind us of how to talk to people with different interests. I would like to think that there are no stupid people, just people who say stupid things to get attention. Sometimes it is not a good use of time to respond. But it can be fun. Imagine if everyone were so up tight. The world would be a sad and boring place.

Thank you! Most decent. I’ve never seen ‘Seven Year Itch’ but I believe it was apparently, a very unfunny Norma Gene flick.

Both Life of Brian and Seven Year Itch are hilarious. SYI was way ahead of its time.

I read. Almost done reading Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason”.

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This page contains a single entry by M. Wilson Sayres published on May 4, 2013 10:07 PM.

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