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October 21, 2012 / carlispina

Visualize Phrase Usage Over Time With Google Books NGram Viewer

Google Books NGram ViewerWith Google Books providing access to a scanned version of 20 million books, there is a wealth of new data available regarding language usage and linguistics over time. To allow easy access to this information, the Google Books team created their NGram Viewer, which has allowed users to “track the usage of phrases across time” since 2010. Now, version 2.0 of the Ngram Viewer has been released and with it comes a lot of additional functionality. This updated tool can identify parts of speech, which means that users can now compare varying uses of the same word over time, for example to see if the use of the word as a noun has increased more or less than the use of the word as a verb. The new version adds the ability to do more complicated comparisons that involve adding, subtracting, multiply or dividing Ngram data to create customized results and graphs, a feature that grew out of user requests. To help users construct more complicated visualizations that rely on these new features, Google has also released a detailed information page that gives examples of many of the possible uses of the tool and answers frequently asked questions. The tool has long been available in a host of languages, including Chinese, French, Hebrew, Spanish, German and Russian, but now the NGram team has also added the ability to visualize phrase usage in Italian, making it even more versatile. Professional linguists and amateur bibliophiles alike will enjoy playing around with these visualizations.

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