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Wordy Nerdy Man

Wordy Nerdy Man

I've always been a bit of a nerd. I think that's why I don't find blindness an insurmountable barrier to writing and performing poetry. It gives me the chance to use words like ‘insurmountable’ for starters!

When I encounter barriers, there's usually a technology-based approach that can contribute to doing the things that I used to do as a sighted person, and sometimes there are developments that give me a totally different way of accomplishing the same result. The things I mention most often on this blog are how I can use my screen reader computer software to read text aloud for me, and can tell me what I'm typing when I'm writing a new poem or a blog post like this one.

Listening to a book is one thing when that book is poetry or a novel, but it's something quite different when it's a reference book where I'm going to need to search through the index to find whatever section I'm interested in. I used to love browsing through Roget's thesaurus. My mum had a copy that had parted from its cover many moons ago and the right hand edge of the pages were singed from the book having been kept on a display cabinet which had small light bulbs for illuminating porcelain ornaments, or lightly toasting book pages. I myself had a cheapo edition Roget, probably bought from the book equivalent of a pound shop or a dollar store, but it still contained all the words I could ever wish to use.

Not Found

An easy-to-use (accessible) thesaurus is something I've spent my blind years trying to hunt down. Yes, there are websites that do useable versions, but they never seem to be as comprehensive or as authoritative as a several-inches thick copy of the OED, Merriam-Webster or Roget in your hand; the online versions also have a tendency to disturb my thought patterns by throwing random adverts right in the middle of my search results, in the most inconvenient places possible.

I used to make do with an online Roget at and that worked pretty well. I've not linked to it here because, well it's gone AWOL. The webpage reports the error ‘Not Found. The requested URL /Roget-Alpha-Index.html was not found on this server.’ To be honest I think I'm more disappointed that a page hosting Roget's thesaurus couldn't find a better phrase than not found.

There is however a currently functioning Roget, at the reassuringly named What I do like about that website is that it has the same little index numbers the print version uses, where I'd look up my word in the index and it would tell me to go find thesaurus entry 546, or 123 where I would find myriad synonyms for how I was feeling. It was like a choose your own adventure story about words :)

Offline, Disconnected, Cut Off, Severed

I don't need a dictionary to explain those words to me. Living in what qualifies as a rural part of Wales means that those words describe the state of what BT try to convince me is a broadband connection. I experience this most days of the week and, writing this post on Saturday night, I can pretty much guarantee that the connection will be far from stable on Sunday morning when I normally want to update my blog.


I'm sure you're too young to remember the ITV / Yorkshire Television series, Only When I Laugh (1979-82). I loved that series and its theme tune, I'm H. A. P. P. Y.. I'm always happy but this week I'm extra happy — if only I could think of a better word to express that ...

I'm H.A.P.P.Y.! I know I am, I'm sure I am, I'm H.A.P.P.Y.!
(lyrics from the theme tune of Yorkshire TV series, Only When I Laugh)

And indeed I am. I'm in a state of:

joyful, jolly, merry, cheerful, glad, pleased, delighted, thrilled, elated, ecstatic, rapturous, overjoyed, exuberant, gleeful, euphoric, satisfied, gratified, in good/high spirits, in a good mood, content, contented, gay, carefree, light-hearted, jovial, radiant, smiling, untroubled, unconcerned, unworried

colloq. chuffed, cock-a-hoop, on top of the world, happy as Larry/a sandboy, over the moon, on cloud nine, in seventh heaven, walking/floating on air, tickled pink; N American happy as a clam.

My Yorkshire roots betray me because I think chuffed is the one of those that hits the nail on the head :) I've found a thesaurus! I was having one more go at Googling for a digital thesaurus that my screen reader would work with, and I found a product that fit the bill. It's a standalone program that will work offline as well as hooked up to the web. Although I don't get the sense that it was designed with blind screen reader users in mind, it seems to have used general good programming practice so that controls like settings, search and the list of available dictionaries are easy to find and navigate around.

The program is called Wordweb and it's available as a free download which I used to try it out with my screen reader, and then there's a Pro version which allows you to use more advanced techniques, plus enabling purchase of further dictionaries.

Amongst the additional dictionary purchase options was the Oxford Shorter English, the Collins, and the Chambers, which also comes as a thesaurus, and that's the one I plumped for. The lists of words I've used in this post come from the Chambers thesaurus tab.

Sweet Toothed Tiger

If I was an animal I think I'd be a sabre toothed tiger with a predilection for nerds of the human and confectionary kind. I used to love Nerds so much!! Tiny balls of hard sugar in seriously sour flavours! As that Wiki article informs, ‘The television show Unwrapped explains how Nerds are made. A factory worker states, "Basically we start off with a sugar crystal and we just keep coating it with more sugar.’ (And you wondered why I like them!) ... You might have seen me in a film back in 1977 when one of the other characters, a princess nonetheless, called me a Nerd herder ;)

Nerdy [Chambers dictionary entry]
nerd or nurd /nûrd/ (slang)


A clumsy, foolish, socially inept, feeble, unathletic, irritating or unprepossessing person, although often (eg in computers) knowledgeable ... yep, that's me in a nutshell! ;)

#Words #Nerd #Dictionary #Thesaurus #Blindness #ScreenReader #NVDA

Published inblindnesseducationPoetry

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