Friday, January 3, 2014

The rhetoric of land use since 1800, as told by Google Books

A friend of mine introduced me to Google's NGram Viewer, which permits searches of terms in Google's database of books, for particular terms over the past several hundred years.  I decided to run several searches on top land use terms.  Here is a chart that shows the relative occurrence of several top land use terms since 1800 in American English, followed by a graph of the same terms relative occurrence in British English.

What's interesting is that the graphs make clear that the term "land use" is very much a twentieth century invention arising about the time of the rise of zoning.  But what to make of the spike of those terms in the 1980s and subsequent decline?  In addition, the term "takings" starts to rise around the 1980s, as well.  Might these rhetorical trends be related?  On the other hand, "eminent domain" was a much more common term in the early part of the twentieth century than it is today.  And interestingly, the rise and fall of the same terms differ in British English as opposed to American English.

Any other notable trends in there you see?

Fun stuff...  

American English:



British English:


 Stephen R. Miller

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