Thanksgiving weekend quiz

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Among the many things that we have to be thankful for is the interesting new web app that generated this fascinating list.  Two questions: (easy) what is the app? and (hard) what input resulted in this output?

In case that one's too easy, here's another.


  1. John C. said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

    It looks like a page of results from, when you use enter "*:[word]" to find words or phrases related to a given word. I can't for the life of me figure out what the input would be, though.

  2. Dhananjay said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

    The first is probably *:multiple + another word.

  3. Urban Garlic said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

    These look like the "statistically improbable phrases" that one sees on Amazon book descriptions, i.e. phrases that occur in some example of language use with higher frequency than they occur in the language as a whole. The input would be the subset in question — for Amazon, it's the book they're describing, of course.

    Given this guess, I don't know what the input might be — the first one seems to be a mix of literary, sociological, and technical terms. The second seems to be more narrowly technical, focused on electronics or computation.

  4. Urban Garlic said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

    OK, posted too fast for my own good, it's clear what the app is. On the up side, it looks like is the crossword-puzzle solver I've wanted for years…

  5. Josh Treleaven said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 10:20 pm

    For the first one, I got pretty close with "multiple reading", but I couldn't do any better than that.

  6. Andrew said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

    I got closer with 'multiple continuity'.

  7. mgh said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 10:45 pm

    hoping someone solves this soon, very frustrating puzzle!

    the reference to "british television" made me think the first might be "coupling" but that's not it

    I can get parts of the second list with "elements of style" but, again, no cigar

    were the inputs language-log-themed or just any old phrase?

  8. mgh said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 10:47 pm

    p.s. "british television" + "dark star" also suggested red dwarf, but no dice

  9. Karl Hagen said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

    It's definitely from onelook.

    For the first one, I get close with ":multiple criticism" (it gives deconstruction as the first term, and a lot of the other words appear in the list, but I can't get an exact hit).

    I'm not getting anything on the second.

  10. Chieu Nguyen said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

    The first seems to be 'bearing multiple interpretations'.

  11. Freddy Hill said,

    November 27, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

    I entered "*:many lights" and got "haggis" as number 1, "barry lyndon" as 72 and "cerveza polar" as 80. This makes me believe that all this is just rubbish because I find it unlikely that Barry ever ate Scottish food with Venezuelan beer.

  12. Peter said,

    November 28, 2010 @ 12:12 am

    @Chieu: I strongly suspect the second one may also involve some form of “bear”, given the appearance of Jack Radcliffe.

  13. Chieu Nguyen said,

    November 28, 2010 @ 12:31 am

    I found the other one too. But it might be cheating since I did more than just look at the words and guess. So I won't reveal it. :p

  14. Tim said,

    November 28, 2010 @ 1:51 am

    Chieu : Yes, I think I see the very specific action you took to find the answer.

  15. Bobbie said,

    November 28, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

    So when will you tell the rest of us?

  16. Joe said,

    November 30, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    Tim already did. I figured out what Chieu did though Tim was very specific.

  17. Ellen K. said,

    December 2, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

    Tim revealed the answer? If so, gee, I missed it.

  18. Tim said,

    December 7, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

    I put the answer in my comment, but I didn't want it to be obvious, since, like Chieu, I sort of cheated to figure it out. Mark's two images have filenames RD1.png and RD3.png. If you change the URL to end with RD2.png, you can see a screenshot showing that the original search term was, in fact, "very specific".

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