So this week I watched this TED talk about using Google’s database of digitized books to track changes in language use over time! It’s pretty interesting, and the most exciting part is you can totally play with it yourself! You just have to type in the word or words you want to track and the date range. Here are some I made:

Pirates vs. Aliens. Click for full size

Something happened around 1920 and aliens were suddenly way more popular than pirates! Of course, there’s no way of knowing if the books in the database are referring to illegal aliens, space aliens, swashbuckling pirates, or music pirates.

Patricia vs. Steven!

That little Steven bump in the 1870s seems to be because of a book published around then called Steven Lawrence, Yeoman.

North Carolina vs. Florida vs. Texas

I thought I would try various states I’ve lived in! And then:

Sorry, Scotland. You used to be popular but Texas has apparently surpassed you

Try it out for yourself!! There’s also some cool ones on this tumblr.

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