Graphing Google Books…

Google’s digitised books are now searchable with their cool nGram tool, available here. From a piece in New Scientist:

From the more than 15 million books digitised to date, Aiden, Michel and colleagues from Google and Harvard selected the 5.2 million with the most reliable data – a total of more than 500 billion words. If written as a single line of text, this would stretch to the moon and back 10 times. Then the researchers counted up the number of times each word appeared in the dataset during each year from 1800 to 2000…

This let them follow changes in word use over this period, as the total number of English words in use rose from 544,000 in 1900 to more than 1 million in 2000, with the vast majority of that increase coming after 1950.

Go to the Ngram viewer and type in a term. Trying hard to think of something useful to do with it, but it’s pretty cool…

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1 comment so far

  1. Phillip A. Ellis on

    It could be useful to map the mentions of a person’s name or surname, as a measure of seeing references and/or citations over time. For instance, in seeing how often “Lovecraft” appears it may be useful in seeing his rise as a figure of popular culture.


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