by Lisa A
If you like to play with words, and what librarian doesn’t, then you will enjoy having exploring Google’s n-gram viewer .
Using the viewer you can graph trends in word and phrase usage based on the text found in Google’s digitised book collection, over 5.2 million books (more than 500 billion words) published between 1500 and 2008.
You can narrow your search by specifying date ranges or by selecting the corpus of work you want to search, e.g. English fiction, French, German, American English, British English and so on.
Type in your search terms with a comma in between each e.g., vampire, werewolf, ghost, fairy. The results will appear on a graph showing how often the words have occurred in the range of books that you selected.
To check out some of the searches that other people have tried, go to this tumblr. You can find out which day of the week gets the most mention, when pizza became more popular than hamburgers or hot dogs, when the war on terror outstripped the war on drugs, when groovy was the ‘in’ word, and when Hitler was written about more than Jesus. (NB: needless to say, some people are interested in profanity so a few of the examples include swear words).