Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Google Ngram and Legalese

Google has introduced a new research tool into the mix.  The Google NGram Viewer allows users to research the frequency with which a particular word appears in books during particular time periods. NGram Viewer creates a cool graph of the findings automatically.  Just for grins, I searched for the term "legalese" in Google's book universe from 1800 to 2008:


Interestingly, usage of the word legalese peaked sometime right after the turn of the century.  Since that time, its use has fallen off sharply.  One way to interpret the results is that they represent nothing more than a coincidence and are meaningless.  But perhaps, as some have suggested, we have begun to defeat legalese in a meaningful way.  In either case, NGram Viewer is a fun tool for people who love words.


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