6 January 2017

Network visualizations

The network visualizations have been updated and now include bubble plots and various way to represent the word assocation data as a network. It's now possible to specify a forward, backward or related network. In each case, they give you a slightly different perspective. For forward networks, the links indicate the responses to a cue word. For the backward network, the links indicate the opposite relations, namely the cue words for the responses. The related networks takes into account how similar two words are by calculating how similar their responses are. To change the visualization type, simple press on the option icon .

Example of a forward network visualization searching for the words man, woman, girl and boy.

You can now also look for multiple key words by entering words in the search box divided by commas. The figure shows an example. You'll also notice different colors in this network. These colors correspond to tightly connected regions in the network. These clusters or "communities" of words, are obtained using the Louvain community detection algorithm and are determined in an automatic (unsupervised) fashion. The nice thing about this style of visualization is that it automatically shows how multiple words are related and what links contribute to this relatedness.

You can also explore these networks interactively, by clicking their label and drag the nodes by holding down the left mouse-button. Another fun way to explore the mental dictionary and you don't feel inspired is by choosing a random word. Just press the icon.

10 May 2016

New version of Small World of Words now online

After 6 years, the Small World of Words project is moving to a new home and an entirely new website. Most pages from are now available at the new domain If you link to the project, please update the URL.

The new website aims to make things more accessible for everyone who's interested in words and language by providing easy lookup and visualization tools. While still a work in progress, you can now lookup words in different languages and access most parts of the website in your own language. Moreover, the dictionary will now reflect an up-to-date snapshot of the lexicon. Besides getting to play with the data collected in this project, the word association game has also been improved to work better on mobile devices and a couple of languages have been added to the project (Chinese, Italian, Portuguese and Russian), so give it a go.

In the coming months the visualization tools will be further improved and the research page will be updated as well.
In the mean time, access to the data and some additional visualizations remain accessible at the research page. Suggestions or feedback are always much appreciated, just mail [email protected].

23 March 2014

Rio Plantense Spanish joins Small World of Words project

Rio Platense Spanish is a form of Spanish spoken in Uruguay and Argentine. Researchers Álvaro Cabana, Camila Zugarramurdi and Juan Valle Lisboa at the Faculty of Science and Psychology in Uruguay are putting their shoulders under the first word association study on Rio Platense Spanish. In just a couple of months already over 3,000 persons have contributed to this study.

More details about this project are available in an article title Jugar con las palabras y la mente.

23 December 2013

Launch of Vietnamese Small World of Words

Xin chào bạn! A new Vietnamese version of the small world of word study in collaboration with Hien Pham is now available online at If you are a native or fluent Vietnamese speaker, you can help us participate and pass it on to your family members and your friends.

Similar to the studies in French, German and Japanese, this set starts of with 1,000 cues that are frequently used. Please let us know what your experiences are. Happy playing! Chơi trò chơi từ vựng này sẽ giúp phản xạ ngôn ngữ nhạy bén hơn. Hãy giúp con bạn thúc đẩy khả năng ngôn ngữ với trò chơi này.

For more information about the Vietnamese project please contact Hien Pham, University of Alberta [email protected]

26 October 2013

New Japanese Small World of Words

ようこそ! A new Japanese version is now available online at http:/ If you are a native Japanese speaker, you can help us pilot this study, or better yet, participate and pass it on to your friends. Similar to the studies in French and German, this set starts of with 1,000 cues that are frequently used. There are some peculiarities handling non-western characters, so at this stage, please let us know what your experiences are...

Special thanks to Chie Nakatani for help with the translations and many useful suggestions!

25 September 2013

Detailed images of the mental lexicon

A new visualization shows the entire mental lexicon in English (or at least the 7,000 words collected so far). Node size indicates how important a node is in terms of incoming links (in-strenght). The transparancy of the edges is indicated by edge-betweenness.

Notice the emergence of a handfull of hubs in the lexicon. The hubs are visible as large red nodes and indicate which nodes are central in the network: work, love, food (...almost matching the Maslow's hierarchy of needs). A more detailed image is available here.

24 September 2013

Citizen Scientists Decode Meaning, Memory and Laughter

The Small World of Words Study is featured on the Scientific American Blog in a guest blog by Joshua Hartshorne at the Computational Cognitive science group at MIT. Be sure to check Verbcorner as well for a related approach to learn the meaning of a large set of words through 'Citizen Science'. A short piece in the printed version of Scientific American is expected to appear beginning next year.