Posts Tagged Period language

Google Ngram for Writers

Just thought I would pass along this interesting tidbit.  I suspect a lot of people have seen Google Ngram, which tracks the relative popularity of various words from roughly 1800 until 2010.  Tonight I discovered it can be a rather handy tool for a writer.  In this case, I was looking for the best term to use for black people during the 1880s, knowing that there was a transition from “negro” to “Negro” before both terms were eventually looked down on during the Civil Rights movement.  Since the tool is case sensitive, I was able to actually put both words in, and found that the capitalization became more the norm right around 1930, meaning my 1880s set story is going to stick to the lower case.

So keep it in mind, it can be an interesting tool when working on getting period language correct.  Just so long as you don’t then get distracted by such things as “what causes the big trough in the red line during the 1950s?”

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