Many eyes on Siwu ne?

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An invitation from Mark Dingmanse:

I just posted a piece on Many Eyes, a nice text visualization tool which I have fed some Siwu texts.

Now this is an open access tool with an interesting philosophy: "Many Eyes is a bet on the power of human visual intelligence to find patterns. Our goal is to "democratize" visualization and to enable a new social kind of data analysis."

I would like to test this philosophy in a peculiar way: by seeing if readers can come up with some kind of account of the functions of the Siwu word 'ne' *only by looking at the patterns* here.

Would you like to join all my eye and Betty Martin in some pattern hunting?

For more discussion, see Mark's post at The Ideophone, "Visual corpus linguistics with Many Eyes", 6/14/2008.


  1. Doug said,

    June 16, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

    That link – – makes my browser (all instances of IE7 on Vista Enterprise) crash hard.

    Anyone else having that problem?

  2. Petro said,

    June 16, 2008 @ 5:28 pm

    I'm using Firefox on XP SP1 and it works fine here. Java starts up and the visualisation runs just the way it should.

    Here's the home page:

    Do other visualisations make your browser crash too?

  3. mark said,

    June 17, 2008 @ 3:40 am

    Not a problem with either FF2, FF3, or IE7 on XP SP1. Doug, it may be a problem with Java then.

  4. mark said,

    June 17, 2008 @ 4:32 am

    BTW, let me clarify the invitation a bit: you are invited to not just 'look', but to click around to get a feeling for the different contexts in which ne occurs.

    Perhaps I should've made clearer that you can (1) manipulate the visualization by clicking on neighbouring words, (2) bring other words and punctuation marks in focus by SHIFT-clicking them, and (3) switch between views of the left and right periphery with the Start/End button.

  5. Ray Girvan said,

    June 17, 2008 @ 6:12 am

    > click around
    How far? It looks more useful to use the tree in conjunction with the raw text, which is at least as enlightening. Some features are instantly visible from the text that aren't easy to see in the word tree: for instance, the predominant use of "ne" to end sentences and clauses, and the particular frequency of "Si … ne" sentences and opening clauses. Also it could be a way into the text to know that words such as Kalaisi and Kudze are proper nouns, which you can't see from the tree.

    For anyone knowing what to look for, the use of "ne" in what appears to be a poem or song could well be enlightening:

    Bo ne, bo ne, iiÉ–e sisokpa sÉ” boba baobia boÉ–e?
    Bo ne, bo ne, iiÉ–e sikekena sÉ” boba boabia boÉ–e?
    Bo ne, bo ne, boare ne?
    Bo ne, bo ne, boare ne?
    Bo ne, bo ne, boare ne?
    Ɣoo ɣoo ɣoo

  6. Joe said,

    June 18, 2008 @ 2:37 am

    More likely a Vista/IE problem than Java, but it's hard to say without error messages. Try installing FireFox and view it then. It might narrow things down, at least, but I just fixed a computer today where a different program was crashing due to corrupted printer drivers. I sincerely doubt that's the case here, I'm only giving the example to illustrate why error messages are important.

    You might get somewhere by Googling a key phrase or two from the error message. Pick the phrase that contains a file name you may never have heard of and something that looks like a reason. You can consider it to be almost on topic, too, because it involves deciphering something in language you probably don't understand very well :-)

  7. mark (the ideophone) said,

    June 24, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

    The results are in.

    (This will likely end up in the spam filter…)

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