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Words in Time - The Ex-Communicator

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December 17th, 2010


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08:39 am - Words in Time
Books NGram Viewer from Google labs lets you track the number of incidents of a word in literature over a period of time.
When you enter phrases into the Google Books Ngram Viewer, it displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books over the selected years.

The default corpus of books being:
The "Google Million". All are in English with dates ranging from 1500 to 2008. No more than about 6000 books were chosen from any one year, which means that all of the scanned books from early years are present, and books from later years are randomly sampled.

I tried it on a few things I knew (for instance the William Blake revival) and it accurately reflected them.

Here are some more I looked at. It's very quick to make the graphs. Note: it's case sensitive, and you need to set the year range.
Shakespeare
orgasm
darkness
ghost
Gawain (there's the discovery of the manuscript in the early 19th c)
some political parties (unfortunately Labour capitalised also means the abstract concept, and WWII Ministry so artificially high)
feminism (it's coming back ladies)
science fiction
war

(6 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:December 17th, 2010 09:03 am (UTC)
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I love the comparisons. The late 18th century must have been dark days indeed:
http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=sex%2C+chocolate&year_start=1600&year_end=2010&corpus=0&smoothing=3
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:December 17th, 2010 09:12 am (UTC)
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The 18th century seems to be empty whatever words I chose. I think they must have used a lot of words, most of them boring. I had some success with gothic and elegy.
[User Picture]
From:steepholm
Date:December 17th, 2010 11:43 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the link - I love stuff like this!
[User Picture]
From:steepholm
Date:December 17th, 2010 11:45 am (UTC)
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Wow - just tried 'sublime', and it did exactly what I expected only much, much more so. What fun!
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:December 17th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
(Link)
Wow, yes, that's Wordsworth right there doing his stuff
[User Picture]
From:gair
Date:December 17th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Isn't it! I just tried masculinity. ('Queer' is fun too, spiking at 1900 and 1990...)

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