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Go to the Google Ngram viewer and do a search, or maybe a few searches. Grab the URL from the most interesting search you do, then post to this discussion thread with a link to your ngram results and a few thoughts about what you found. Do that using Add Comment on this page.

One more thing: Think back over the essays and other projects you've done in classes at Geneseo. Is there one that you might have done differently — even just a little bit differently — if you'd had a text analysis tool like TextSTAT or the ngram viewer available to you?

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18 Comments

  1. Unknown User (hes3)

    It seems that around 1900, some brilliant person came up with the mint-chocolate combo. This also goes to show that no one has ever liked vanilla as much as chocolate.

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=chocolate%2Cvanilla%2Cstrawberry%2Cmint&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

  2. Unknown User (ees14)

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

    Family, home: I wonder what happened during 1860 and 1960 that those two words flipped, and then after 1960 they flipped again? It looks like an oscillation wave that I saw somewhere in physics class. 

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

    Law, order, with a steady drop in law after the 1920s. Either we became very good at keeping the law and nobody needed to mention it any more in any book, or we just didn't care as much

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

    Justice, mercy--apparently, justice has always been above mercy! Gulp...

  3. Unknown User (mn4)

    I was looking at the evolution of spelling of common words. It seems as though the current most popular spelling of Brian only overtook the previous spelling "Bryan" in the 1970s.

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=Brian%2C+Brien%2C+Bryan&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    Plus, the majority spelling of color has been shifting away from the British spelling: http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=color%2C+colour&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    There was a project in which I analyzed all of the instances of the word "civilized" in the House of Mirth. This would have been much easier to find all the instances of the word if the book were digitized at the time.

  4. Unknown User (sjc2)

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=God%2C+Allah&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    This is a bit misleading. God is certainly more frequent than Allah but you can't see the fluctuations in Allah unless you search for it by itself or with something else that has a similar frequency.

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

    Pay attention to the percentages on the y-axis!

    1. Unknown User (lah15)

      Women's rights and suffrage

      I tihnk it is interesting that "women's rights" only began to gain significant mention after the 1960's, while the movement for women's suffrage made a clear impact on the use of the word "suffrage" around 1920. Also, I find it significant that the phrase "women's rights" is more commonly used now than it ever has been before.

      As for a project that I might have done differently, I wrote a paper on Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice where I studed the use of financial language. A tool such as TextSTAT may have been useful. While TextSTAT may not have been able to discern between "bond' as in friendship and as in financial language, it could have been helpful in finding and comparing the different examples that I used.

  5. Unknown User (mpv4)

    Analogue v. Digital:http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=analogue%2C+digital&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

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

    It's actually really cool that people started writing more about the analogue age when the digital age began. I guess we didn't have a name for old-school technology when it was still new-school, so to speak. And I was really surprised that computer actually decreased in popularity over the past twenty or so years. Maybe it's getting naturalized?

    Would I fix an old essay with this program?

    I don't really think I have had any essays that this would have aided me with. I guess I have to give it some more thought, but this tool seems really useful to many people, but it is just a cool toy for me.

  6. Unknown User (sjh11)

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=marriage%2Cdivorce%2C+love%2C+hate&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    Interesting trends.  I'm surprised the word "divorce" flat lines over time.  I think this tool can be very useful when comparing word frequencies in Walden to trends like this over time.

  7. Unknown User (ecb8)

    Culturally, seems like we're significantly more concerned about this whole pride thing than we are about lust, envy, sloth, gluttony, wrath, or greed. Lust, envy, and wrath are distant seconds.

    To the second question - definitely yes. In papers on both Ulysses and Richard III, I've looked to relative word counts to draw conclusions about themes and patterns. I'm sure that TextStat would have identified repetition that I didn't see.

  8. Unknown User (jag5)

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=nigger%2CNegro%2Cnegro%2CAfrican+American&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    It's very interesting to me that there are such different results based on capitalization for the word negro and hyphenation versus non-hyphenation of African American. I was confused at first when I had almost no results for African-American, but after removing the hyphen I got a picture closer to what I had expected.

    It's very telling that the spikes in use of the word Negro occur around the Civil War (lower case), WWII, and the Civil Rights movement, three periods in American history where we certainly were forced to deal with our deeply entrenched problem of our sharp color line that in most eras gets very, very buried in public and private discourse.

    I think with a little bit more nuance, this particular graph could work its way into a paper as a quick footnote, since I will very likely be writing about the role of the black American in the identity narratives of the United States. I'm not so sure if I'd have found a use for this tool in a previous paper, but that's not only a product of my thinking about topics, but also my disciplinary prejudices about what counts as "evidence" (prejudices that we all have in our respective fields of academia).

  9. Unknown User (jd20)

    Life vs. Death http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=life%2Cdeath&year_start=1500&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    After a closely fought battle for 2 and a half centuries, life has begun to pull away. Interesting that the divergence starts before many of the most impressive gains in modern medicine, life expectancy, etc.

  10. Unknown User (eps3)

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=AIDS&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    This was interesting- the search for AIDS appears to match the time frame of the classification of the disease, with a peak around the 1980s.

  11. Unknown User (jrd18)

    Thinking back to Hum 2, I was curious about the popularity of individual vs. collective terms. Deep? Not particularly; but there are some interesting trends. The words "social" and "self" seem to come into use at about the same time (around 1800). "Self" explodes into popularity relatively quickly, while "social" takes it time, but eventually out-paces the rest. I included some synonyms as well.

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=individual%2Cself%2Csocial%2Ccommunity%2Ccollective&year_start=1600&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    As far as if this would have made me write a paper differently; absolutely. I would have included this data in a few papers, particularly zoomed in on some specific gaps if I'm talking about the transition between Locke and Rousseau or the like.

  12. Unknown User (dmb21)

    I hate self-help books in the vein of He's Just Not That Into You:

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/chart?content=woman%2Clove%2Cman&corpus=0&smoothing=3&year_start=1800&year_end=2000

    I think this next graph is pretty interesting as I entered words that usually follow 'I' or 'we', like 'I need', 'I want', 'I must', 'I hope'. By the year 1810, must is nearly six times as likely to appear in print as want, hope, or need and the relative appearances of need, want, and hope begin almost a hundredth of a percent separately, but come to a strange intersection right after the turn of the twentieth century. Then they diverge again, but need steadily rises as hope decreases and we see a switch in their relative appearances, ending nearly three hundredths of a percent apart. Perhaps a shift away from writing romantically? And for the nexus in 1900, it is plausible that with the end of the Spanish-American War, published works in English start to recognize the US' stronger international presence. 

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/chart?content=want%2Cwish%2Chope%2Cneed%2Cmust%2Cowe&corpus=0&smoothing=3&year_start=1800&year_end=2008

    I would really have enjoyed this Ngram tool while reading The Feminine Mystique. I love the marriage of the numbers and the words, I'm a big fan of charts. 

  13. Unknown User (keh23)

    At a loss for what to search, I tried the four terms from a Foo Fighters album: Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace. Seeing the steep decline in "grace" I tried searching terms with religious themes: Heaven and Hell, God and morality, and sacred and secular. It seemed like people were referencing religion less and less over time. Then I checked the dates I was searching between, and realized I was looking at data from 1800 to 2000. Changing the time frame from 1800 to 2008 showed an upswing in references to my religiously themed search terms. I've heard it said that the United States is in the middle of another Great Awakening, or renewed interest in spirituality. Maybe this search is evidence of that.

  14. Unknown User (hes3)

    Oh oh oh and I almost forgot. I wrote an angry feminist paper on Willa Cather's O Pioneers back in my freshman year that could have been majorly improved with TextStat instead of using the same two or three pages as textual support.

  15. Unknown User (mam34)

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=magic%2C+technology&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

    After reading all the comments of "Your Brain on (fill in the blank)", I decided to google the use of magic versus technology in literature. Not until 1960 does technology get any valuable use (only in around 1900 does it even exist, and briefly). However, when it does start getting used, does it get used. Like whoa.

    1. Unknown User (mam34)