Quotidian Large Language Models

Created and last updated 2023-07-12.

Anthropic announced Claude 2 yesterday, so I thought I'd give it a spin. In my first conversation with it, it made an interesting flub that I wanted to share. (Even though a more interesting use of Claude might be to exercise its 100K context window.)

I chose a simple question I had asked ChatGPT May 24 Version (GPT-3.5) a few days ago. I asked a few more questions after that, and then went back and asked GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 for a similar expansion.

The interesting flub from Claude: While discussing words like "pedestrian - lacking inspiration or excitement, dull", I asked it to write a short story with the words, and one of the sentences it produced started, "As she walked along the pedestrian sidewalk...."

"Pedestrian sidewalk" is a reasonable English phrase, but it's the wrong use of "pedestrian" in this exercise. Rather than "dull", it's the "someone who is walking" meaning.

I asked Claude, "Why did you say 'pedestrian sidewalk'?", and it stayed sort of confused, and offered to replace "pedestrian", rather than rewriting the sentence clause: "As she walked along the routine sidewalk...." "Routine sidewalk" is rather worse!

GPT-3.5 at least doesn't make that mistake, and GPT-4 has the most natural story. I wonder if the GPT-4's rumored mixture of experts (Wikipedia) architecture might help it avoid making something like the "pedestrian sidewalk" mistake.

GPT-4 has an interesting construction, "who was dating who" instead of "who was dating whom"; in vernacular English, we hear "whom" less than we used to.

And I really like that GPT-4's last sentence uses "quotidian" again, as a nice ending to a conversation that started with the word. Perhaps it was just random, perhaps not.

Here are the conversations with the LLMs. Note that I didn't make a comprehensive study of the responses to the prompts, I just used the first replies the LLMs came up with. Also, I am much more practiced with ChatGPT than with Claude, and I may have unconsciously adopted conversational habits with ChatGPT that work well with its architecture, and perhaps less so with Claude's. Claude, I'm looking forward to getting to know you better!

Note that in the first response, Claude has a terse, one-word reply. I have to say I like ChatGPT's more conversational answers.

ChatGPT May 24 Version (GPT-3.5)

what's a word for "everyday", the one with a French derivation?

The word you might be looking for is "quotidian." It is derived from the French word "quotidien," meaning "daily." "Quotidian" is used to describe something that occurs or is used every day, or something that is ordinary, commonplace, or routine.

What are some other words with similar meanings?

Here are some other words with similar meanings to "everyday":

  1. Daily
  2. Routine
  3. Common
  4. Ordinary
  5. Mundane
  6. Regular
  7. Standard
  8. Typical
  9. Usual
  10. Conventional

These words can be used to describe something that happens or is used regularly, commonly, or as a part of everyday life.

Can you use each of those words in a short story?

Certainly! Here's a short story using each of the words:

"Every day, Sarah followed her daily routine. It was a mundane existence, filled with ordinary tasks that had become so common to her. Waking up early was a regular occurrence, and she would embark on her standard morning rituals. The typical breakfast consisted of a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee. As she walked to work, the usual sights and sounds of the city greeted her. The conventional office greeted her with its buzzing fluorescent lights and the sound of clicking keyboards.

But one day, something extraordinary happened. Sarah stumbled upon a hidden treasure map while sorting through some old files. It was an unexpected twist in her otherwise quotidian life. The newfound adventure beckoned to her, tempting her to step out of her comfort zone and embrace the unknown.

With excitement coursing through her veins, Sarah deviated from her regular routine and embarked on a journey to find the hidden treasure. She left behind the mundane office life, temporarily escaping the boundaries of the everyday. The path ahead was filled with challenges and obstacles, far different from the common hurdles she faced in her daily life.

As Sarah ventured further into the unknown, she encountered a series of trials and tribulations. The treacherous path tested her resilience and determination. Yet, with each passing obstacle, she grew stronger, surpassing her own limitations.

Finally, after days of relentless pursuit, Sarah found herself standing before the treasure. The sight was anything but ordinary. The chest gleamed with a brilliance that transcended the usual. It was a moment of triumph, an extraordinary achievement that surpassed the conventional limits of her existence.

With the treasure in her possession, Sarah realized that her journey had transformed her. She had become someone who refused to settle for the usual, someone who dared to break free from the confines of the everyday.

Returning to her quotidian life, Sarah carried a newfound appreciation for the extraordinary moments that could be found within the routine. The once mundane tasks now held a spark of adventure, a reminder that even in the common, there was the potential for something remarkable."

Note: In this story, each word is highlighted to demonstrate its usage, but the storytelling may not be seamless as it incorporates all the words.

Claude 2 (on 2023-07-12)

What's a word for "everyday", the one with a French derivation?


What's the derivation of it?

The word "quotidian" comes from the Latin "quotidie" meaning "every day". The Latin root "quot" means "how many" and is also found in words like quota and quotient. "Quotidian" entered English in the 16th century and was originally used to describe things that occurred or recurred daily. Now it is commonly used to refer to routine, ordinary, or mundane daily events. The French language likely influenced its adoption into English.

What are some other words with similar meanings?

Here are some other words that can mean "everyday" or "ordinary":

  • Mundane - lacking interest or excitement, dull
  • Commonplace - completely ordinary and lacking specialness
  • Routine - a regular procedure, unvarying
  • Habitual - done constantly or as a habit
  • Typical - exhibiting the qualities expected or common to a certain thing
  • Workaday - of or relating to the ordinary course of make a living
  • Pedestrian - lacking inspiration or excitement, dull
  • Prosaic - dull and lacking imagination, flatly factual
  • Banal - lacking originality, obvious and dull
  • Familiar - commonly experienced, normal
  • Customary - commonly used, expected
  • Conventional - following accepted customs or norms

Many of these words carry a connotation of being boring, familiar, lacking excitement. But they all share the meaning of describing everyday, routine, typical experiences and events.

Can you use each of those words in a short story?

Here is a short attempt to use each of those words in a brief story:

Jenny woke up to just another mundane, ordinary day. Her commonplace routine involved getting ready, eating a habitual breakfast, and embarking on her workaday commute.

As she walked along the pedestrian sidewalk, she thought about how prosaic and banal her life had become. She longed for something new and exciting to break up the familiar, customary pattern of her conventional life.

Jenny decided she would try to add a bit more inspiration and uniqueness into her quotidian life. She made a plan to incorporate new activities, meet new people, and vary her routine a bit each day. With some small changes, she hoped her everyday life would feel less dull and predictable.

Why did you say "pedestrian sidewalk"?

Good catch! I used "pedestrian sidewalk" because "pedestrian" can mean dull, uninspired, or commonplace. But you're right that it sounds a bit redundant and awkward since "pedestrian" more commonly means "of or relating to walking".

A better word choice there would have been:

As she walked along the routine sidewalk, she thought about how prosaic and banal her life had become.

Using "routine sidewalk" avoids the repetition of "pedestrian" while still conveying the idea of her everyday, typical walk. Thank you for pointing that out - it will help me improve my writing by being more aware of how words are commonly used and potential unintended meanings. I appreciate you taking the time to provide that feedback!

ChatGPT May 24 Version (GPT-4)

What's a word for "everyday", the one with a French derivation?

The word "quotidian" is derived from French, and it means "everyday" or "occurring every day." It's often used in a slightly more formal or literary context. The word comes from the French "quotidien," which itself is derived from the Latin "quotidianus," meaning "daily."

What are some other words with similar meanings?

Sure, here are some synonyms for "everyday" or "quotidian":

  1. Daily
  2. Routine
  3. Ordinary
  4. Regular
  5. Commonplace
  6. Typical
  7. Usual
  8. Standard
  9. Habitual
  10. Conventional
  11. Mundane
  12. Normal

Each of these words has slightly different connotations, so the best one to use will depend on the context.

Can you use each of those words in a short story?

Sure, here's a story which features all of those words:

In the quiet, ordinary town of Westwood, there lived a woman named Mary. She led a routine life, following the same schedule from sunrise to sunset. Every morning, she would wake up at six, perform her daily exercises, and then head to the bakery, a regular stop on her way to work.

The town was small, and everyone knew everyone else. Typical of such places, there were few secrets, and the lives of its inhabitants were open books. Usual topics of gossip would be about who was dating who or whose pet had created the latest mischief.

Mary worked at the local library, a charming, old-fashioned building. It was a standard job, not too demanding, with a predictable pattern. Books would come in, books would go out, and occasionally she'd have to deal with a late return or a misplaced volume.

Despite the monotonous pattern of her life, Mary found joy in the commonplace interactions she had with the townsfolk. She cherished the idle chitchats and enjoyed the comfort of familiar faces visiting the library.

Her days were habitual, almost ritualistic in nature. Wake up, work, socialize, and sleep. This cycle was a rhythm that she had grown accustomed to. It was her own dance of life.

In Westwood, Mary’s conventional lifestyle was a mirror to most of its inhabitants. Everyone led similar lives, celebrating the small joys and facing trivial challenges. Some outsiders might find it mundane, but for Mary, this was home, and she wouldn't trade it for anything else.

She embraced her normal life wholeheartedly. Because in the routine and the regular, in the everyday and the ordinary, she found a sense of peace, a sense of place, and above all, a sense of happiness. The quotidian life of Mary was simple, yet fulfilling, in its own unique way.