During this quiet holiday week, we’ve decided to roll out a new feature on the Pink Blog — something we call the Ngram Faceoff.
Earlier this month, Google Labs launched its Books Ngram Viewer, a powerful (and addictive) piece of technology. Just type in a few words or phrases — and up pops a graph showing how often those words or phrases appeared in books over a certain period of time. For instance, on the Ngram Viewer information page, you can see a chart of “nursery school,” “kindergarten,” and “child care” between 1950 and 200. Note how “child care” languishes for 25 years, but then surpasses both of its counterparts around 1975.
So to spark some conversations, this week — and into the future — we look at some comparisons.
We begin with “hope” and “fear” in American English from 1900 to 2008. Hope (in blue) had a clear lead for most of the 20th century, but fear (in red) has made a rousing comeback and the duo have been locked in a pitched battle for the past generation. (Click the chart to get a larger version.)
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