Contributor Post Created with Sketch. My Day is Shot: Fun with Google NGrams

 

Google Labs has a new cool time-waster called Google NGram Viewer.  Essentially, it’s a search engine for the printed word from 1800 to 2000: you key in a few words, and the viewer instantly graphs the occurrence of those words over two centuries of indexed publications. 

Here, for instance, is the NGram Viewer for these words: sin, righteous, and piety:

The word “sin,” as you can see, has been on a steep decline since 1840.  

Here’s my favorite: the occurrence over the past two centuries of the words empower, multicultural, and homophobia:

chart.png

It’s addictive, and hilarious, and I’m sorry if, like me, your day is now shot.  Go do a couple yourself, and post them here.

There are 63 comments.

  1. R.J. Moeller Inactive

    This is gold, Jerry…gold!

    Finals? Who needs to study for finals when I can be NGram-ing words like “bootylicious”, “Borking”, and “Diddy”???

    • #1
    • December 17, 2010, at 10:35 AM PST
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  2. R.J. Moeller Inactive

    Here’s one for “love, truth, and humility.”

    The silver lining in the “we care about love and truth much less than we used to” cloud is that we’ve remained consistently un-humble about it.

    Off to NGram O’Reilly’s “Words of the Day” since 1998.

    • #2
    • December 17, 2010, at 10:45 AM PST
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  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Here’s one for “indomitable, imperturbable, insensitive”.

    As you see, indomitability and imperturbability have been on the decline for some time, but insensitivity is on the rise.

    • #3
    • December 17, 2010, at 10:53 AM PST
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  4. Britanicus Member

    This is fascinating! I suggest using the words “Islam” and “Christianity”. Then change the languages… it’s amazing what a difference it is. I’m not sure if there’s anything concrete to infer but there are a few observations:

    1. English speaking publications (American and British) follow a similar trajectory and both used to talk about Christianity a lot more than Islam. Today Christianity has a slight edge.

    2. China and Russia both have dramatic differences year to year of how much they talked about Christianity. Some years it’s a record high, other years there is hardly a mention. Also, Islam doesn’t seem to be discussed much.

    3. The French, Spaniards and Germans discuss Islam a whole lot more than they do Christianity, the former barely getting a mention. This strikes me as quite odd. Especially the Spanish.

    Does anyone have any historical light to shed on this? It seems remarkably interesting and I’d be curious to know more behind it. I’m quite ready to delve into some microfiche and read 200 years of international news papers!

    • #4
    • December 17, 2010, at 10:54 AM PST
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  5. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Also, engagements, romances, and affairs have all been on the decline, while relationships, at first less common than all the other three, have now skyrocketed.

    • #5
    • December 17, 2010, at 10:57 AM PST
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  6. Nathaniel Wright Member

    It’s wonderful to see that they have created a new tool to use the data set they acquired through the largest act of copytheft in history.

    Whee!

    • #6
    • December 17, 2010, at 10:58 AM PST
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  7. Ward Inactive

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=ego,honor&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    ‘Ego” took off in ’40 but peaked in ’70s while ‘Honor’ is making a comeback…this is really fascinating.

    • #7
    • December 17, 2010, at 10:58 AM PST
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  8. Rob Long Founder
    Rob Long Post author
    R.J. Moeller: This is gold, Jerry…gold!

    Finals? Who needs to study for finals when I can be NGram-ing words like “bootylicious”, “Borking”, and “Diddy”??? · Dec 17 at 9:35am

    That’s what we’re here for, R. J. — to undermine and disrupt your education.

    • #8
    • December 17, 2010, at 10:59 AM PST
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  9. Bereket Kelile Member

    I’ve been looking for a word that more or less has a horizontal graph. I wonder what that might be.

    Meanwhile, have you seen the graph for Merry Christmas? Tis the season and its pretty interesting that there are multiple periods where apparently no one ever spoke the words. I find that suspicious.

    • #9
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:06 AM PST
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  10. R.J. Moeller Inactive

    Okay, I promise not to hog the comments here, but I had to do it:

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…Hope and Change!

    • #10
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:10 AM PST
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  11. Bereket Kelile Member

    This is a disturbing trend. Here’s liberty. Here’s rights. And democracy.

    • #11
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:10 AM PST
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  12. George Savage Contributor

    Completely predictable: global warming, climate change and greenhouse gases. For some reason environmental socialism became an animating scientific concern at about the dawn of the Reagan administration. And the good times keep on rolling.

    chart.png

    • #12
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:21 AM PST
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  13. James Lileks Contributor

    Suffered a steep post-war decline, but the trends are hopeful.

    • #13
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:22 AM PST
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  14. George Savage Contributor

    Now this one puts a spring in my step.

    chart2.png

    • #14
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:30 AM PST
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  15. RPD Member
    RPD

    Strangest graph I’ve seen.

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=midgit&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    • #15
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:36 AM PST
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  16. David Kreps Member

    A more recent history of doings in finance: private equity,leveraged buyout,initial public offering,hedge fund. And to calibrate against interest in making stuff instead of just speculating/owning/investing in it: Japanese management,kanban

    • #16
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:42 AM PST
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  17. Carl Gauss Inactive

    Recent presidents (W. and H.W. combined).

    • #17
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:48 AM PST
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  18. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    RPD: Strangest graph I’ve seen.

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=midgit&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3 · Dec 17 at 10:36am

    As “midgit” is a misspelling of “midget”, what you’re seeing is something that happens with low frequency to begin with in printed material. No wonder it’s all catawampus. You get some similar shapes with “squeemish” (for “squeamish”).

    In case anyone has been wondering, diddle has always been more common than twiddle (the two seem, very roughly, to track each other), and lewdness has declined steeply as erotica has increased.

    • #18
    • December 17, 2010, at 11:55 AM PST
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  19. Bulldawg Inactive

    The works of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit.

    Galatians Five for you heathens.

    • #19
    • December 18, 2010, at 1:44 AM PST
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  20. FeliciaB Inactive
    George Savage: Completely predictable: global warming, climate change and greenhouse gases. For some reason environmental socialism became an animating scientific concern at about the dawn of the Reagan administration. And the good times keep on rolling. · Dec 17 at 10:21am

    Hm. Kinda looks like a hockey stick, no?

    • #20
    • December 18, 2010, at 1:48 AM PST
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  21. flownover Inactive
    George Savage: Completely predictable: global warming, climate change and greenhouse gases. For some reason environmental socialism became an animating scientific concern at about the dawn of the Reagan administration. And the good times keep on rolling. · Dec 17 at 10:21am

    Definitely looks like a hockey stick to me.

    • #21
    • December 18, 2010, at 2:23 AM PST
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  22. Xty Member
    Xty

    I will never accomplish anything again – wicked fun, and actually very informative. Gold and money track each other surprisingly well. I can only hope that trend continues.

    • #22
    • December 18, 2010, at 2:40 AM PST
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  23. Dan Holmes Inactive

    It’s interesting to try both synonyms and opposite-meaning phrases, like “public good, private property.”

    • #23
    • December 18, 2010, at 2:51 AM PST
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  24. Michael Pate Inactive

    Capitalism vs Communism – 1964 seems to have been the turning point. Perhaps Goldwater won after all.

    Liberal Fascism – much more common phrase than I would have anticipated

    At least we aren’t worry quite as much about a new ice age as we used to.

    • #24
    • December 18, 2010, at 3:09 AM PST
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  25. :thinking: no superfluity of n… Member

    Christmas vs. Xmas (this thing does not like hyphens!)

    Role play, role playing

    Airplane vs. Aeroplane

    Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ

    God

    And just for fun: and, the (I am now wondering just how Google is counting…)

    • #25
    • December 18, 2010, at 3:23 AM PST
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  26. Steven Potter Thatcher

    Apparently liberty is on the decline, but freedom has remained relatively consistent with a spike in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

    And, being an astronomy buff I searched for the big bang.

    • #26
    • December 18, 2010, at 3:37 AM PST
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  27. Dan Holmes Inactive

    Republic vs. Democracy

    • #27
    • December 18, 2010, at 3:42 AM PST
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  28. J. C. Casteel Inactive
    Pseudodionysius: Rob, you Silly Obstinate Bostonian,

    Federal Marshall · Dec 17 at 11:37am

    Not necessarily claiming any influence here, but the rise in usage seems to coincide with the span of my career! Try it spelled correctly and see what happens (we received an automatic “F” in the academy if we spelled marshal with two l’s).

    • #28
    • December 18, 2010, at 3:52 AM PST
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  29. flownover Inactive

    I tried “manumission”, that was interesting. “Beatles” and “marijuana” had the same high about the same time.

    Christian and catholic and jew versus muslim and pentecostalist were surprising.

    Wondering what the results of google searches would be back then ?

    • #29
    • December 18, 2010, at 4:02 AM PST
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  30. Jimmy Carter Member

    A trend in Our federal government.

    • #30
    • December 18, 2010, at 5:15 AM PST
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