On the Write Track: The PhraseWorthy App

Writers in a variety of fields sometimes want to create wordplays and do it fast. This can be vital, for example, in preparing advertising, marketing slogans, company names, greeting cards, bumper stickers, and catchy newspaper headlines.

Professor Dallin D. Oaks of the Linguistics and English Language department teamed up with Thad Gillespie and David Healey (a former student) to create a web app called PhraseWorthy, which brainstorms ideas for clever wordplays and then provides lists of phrases from which a user of the software can then select the most potentially useful ones for further refining and polishing.

The software is based in part on research by Professor Oaks on structural ambiguity, but it also uses additional features to make the app especially creative and useful. In fact, the first part of the title for this report (“On the Write Track”) was generated in seconds by the PhraseWorthy app after typing in the word “write.”

The PhraseWorthy brainstorming tool draws upon different language databases and accesses related words, rhymes, idiomatic expressions, homonyms, etc. It also has some formulas for manipulating selected words into phrases that can be catchy and clever. But it is still the creative writer’s responsibility to add the finishing touches to make the phrases really effective. BYU’s Advertising Lab has recently decided to use the PhraseWorthy software with the advertising students.

Check into the PhraseWorthy app at phraseworthy.com

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