Relational Words

A to Z of
Creativity Techniques
Reframing Values

This technique takes any existing word(s) and strives to add in relational words (e.g. ‘about, ‘except’, ‘under’, ‘though’ etc.) to modify or expand the meaning of the original word(s), or to encourage further development (devised by Crovitz, 1970 as "Relational Algorithms as described by VanGundy, 1981; 1988)). Below is a table of frequent English relational words:

About Above Across After Against Along
Amid Among And Around As At
Because Before Behind Below Beneath Beside
Between Beyond But By Down During
Except For From If In Into
Near Not Now Of Off On
Opposite Or Out Over Past Round
Since So Still Then Though Through
Throughout To Toward Under Up Upon
When Where While With Within Without

The method was originally designed to supplement methods that generate word pairs, see ((Attribute Listing)), some forms of ((Random Stimuli)), ((Listing)), ((Morphological Analysis)), and ((Paraphrasing Key words)).

For example, should one of these techniques generate the combination: ‘room’ and ‘kettle’ the relational words might suggest idea-stimulating variants such as :

  • Room-beside-kettle
  • Kettle-in-room
  • Room-kettle-within etc.

It could also be used as a starting point technique in any form of idea-generation, by taking any suitable idea and adding the relational word. So if you have ‘garage sale’ as an idea, you can explore possible meanings of ideas such as ‘within the garage sale’, ‘garage sale where’ or ‘sale in garage’.

Whilst you could use the technique by working through every relational word on the list, the method is almost certainly better used selectively – e.g. by having the words on a wall chart and taking a quick look at them whenever you need inspiration.