Posts Tagged ‘apples to apples’


Apples to Apples (to Overenthusiastic Semanticists)

March 6, 2009

Somewhere along the line, I got it into my head that it would be really nifty to try and construct a fluid, dynamic model of subjective semantics around a bunch of games of Apples to Apples. (Apropos of nothing: why are there Jewish and Bible versions of this? That could be a fun socioling paper to write.) So, this evening when my housemates started up a game, I sat out and tried to record as much of it as I could. My data was full of holes because they didn’t feel like slowing down to tell me who submitted which card, but other than that, I did collect a decent amount of data for the first try.

I’ve yet to try and find any patterns or come up with any theories about this, and I think it would be helpful to play multiple games so I could get multiple entries for each noun card, and this would’ve been way easier to do if there was some electronic version so that the cards themselves were recorded automatically and I could focus more on transcribing the in-game banter (very relevant, had a noticable effect on the outcome!) for further analysis. I’d love to do a real big semantic and sociolinguistic project on Apples to Apples some time, because the game just lends itself so well to that sort of thing.

As to how I would go about analyzing these data, I’d have to say that my first approach would be to try and find situations (once we have about a million times as many data, anyways) where certain cards come up again and again, and check for any pattern. This might be something like finding the “trump cards,” which always seem to win the round no matter what adjective they’re being connected to (“Pond Scum” is just such a trump card in my house), or cards which will always win when the round is being judged by a certain person (according to Harry, that’s the main reason he picked “vampires” for “glorious”). It would also be interesting to see what category of noun tends to get matched with what category of adjective, and so forth. There’s a lot of work to be done on this, is my point, and I sincerely hope that I get a chance in my academic career to devote that much time and effort to the project.

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