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Language lab PDF Print
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Written by Elizabeth Millard   
Thursday, 31 July 2003 19:00
Wouldn't it be great if there was a program that gave you a dictionary, thesaurus, almanac, and dynamic reference, all in one simple application? That day has come.

It's funny how a blank piece of paper can be terrifying. When you have to write a letter or a memo, that harmless white space suddenly seems so large and intimidating. Fortunately, some software programs can take the sting out of starting that brilliant manifesto you have planned. One offering that's showing how it can be done is Word Menu, a handy tool for making you into a wordsmith.

The program is an all-in-one dictionary, thesaurus,and almanac, and a dynamic reference volume that can be searched with ease. You start by looking through the application's topics and subtopics front page and diving in from there. This leads to word lists, other topics, and definitions.

Those who are even more word-challenged than other people can draw on their visual skills and use the program's fractal browser to skip around the topics. The fractal option is quite funky, given the straightforwardness of the rest of the program. The looping circles and bright colors make it look somewhat like a Wiccan moon calendar, which certainly isn't a bad thing.

Beyond the impressive organization, one of the program's most useful features is how it groups terminology. Rather than acting as just a standard dictionary and thesaurus, Word Menu lets you dig deep in an unfamiliar field and learn its terms. For students especially, this is a super speedy way to get caught up on jargon that populates fields like economics and social sciences.

If you're already a word groupie like me--yes, I find myself reading the dictionary--the program is like a glimpse inside language nirvana. I spent a few hours (in the name of testing, of course) just tooling around through the vocabulary. Want to have fun with Latin? Want blank page fear to be a thing of the past? Then plunk down your $34.95 at Word Menu's site, my fellow wordsmith.

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