Three Tips On Using Google #ngrams

Old Blog Import

Three tips on using Google’s new ngrams word search.

  1. <It is case sensitive. beatles” is not the same as Beatles”.
  2. There are multiple data sets. Are you using American English or British English?
  3. Check the data. See those links at the bottom (the ones with dates)? You can use those to see what is actually getting found in your search. Curious why shaq shows so many results in 1860? Look at the results for that time period. Turns out a lot are written shaQ” which should be a clue that Google’s OCR engine misread books which were writing shall.” (Also, you should have written Shaq” not shaq” — see #1.)

Finally, keep the following in mind when you interpret your data: ;

BONUS: For a little fun, try searching for never gonna give you up” in #ngrams. (Doesn’t always work outside the US.)