Monday, 5 March 2012

Google Ngram Viewer

Anyone who has played with the Google Ngram Viewer will have seen this kind of thing already. Google has produced a tool to analyse word frequency in its vast array of scanned texts dating back centuries.

Here is a plot for the word frequency of liberty,duty and wisdom from 1700.

It's easy to make too much of a word declines like this and turn yourself into a sociologist, but if you fancy a go yourself, try gender or democracy.


Sam Vega said...

An intriguing little toy. Makes you wonder what else they are playing around at, given the apparently enormous speeds this works at.

"Gender" appears to have peaked and might even be experiencing a down-turn. I hope so, to the extent that I am henceforth imposing a personal moratorium in an attempt to help it on its way.

"Fuck" is the most interesting. (Come on, admit you tried it!).

You seem to have a rather odd view of what sociologists do for a living...

A K Haart said...

SV - Actually I didn’t try “fuck”, but “war” is an interesting one if you go back to 1500.

I don’t have any particular view of sociologists (yet), but if I happened to be one, I know I’d be fascinated by this kind of tool.

It must be worth a paper or two at least, although I'm not sure if sociologists make much use of language as a parameter of social change.