Jan 12, 2009

'Interesting' is a stop word?

In language processing, a stop word is one that that has little to no importance in a certain task. Common examples are words like 'the' and 'of' in an Information Retrieval system, which is why a search engine ignores them by default. A routine measure of stop words involves frequency - words that occur too often are deemed to have lost their 'distinguishing power' and so do not provide any value while trying to identify the topic of a document or the opinions of a blog post.

To me, the word 'interesting' is teetering on the edge of usefulness. Earlier, when someone used the word, you could assume they found something worthy of curiosity. But, in many instances now, the word is used in a politically correct sense, usually as a response to the question: "so what did you think of that?"

If you don't possess the mordant wit of Dorothy Parker or the honesty of a child, you hem and haw and say: "Oh, um, it was interesting. Quite interesting.".

And "interesting" becomes consigned to the scrap heap of pointless patter.


Vivek said...

Hmm..Interesting! :)

Ramanand said...

Vivek: I ignored that ;-)

Matter Mahadevan said...

Double interesting :)