PLEDGE NOW
Trending Terms, Digital Books & Historical Data Crunching

We look at what 500 years of word usage tells us about our culture. See the Google Books Ngram Viewer.

Google Books

Google Books

We are the species of language and words. The words we use come pretty close to defining us … the way we see the world. And those words change over time — dramatically.

Now, researchers are tapping a massive new database of words and phrases from 5 million books to see how our embrace and use of words has changed over centuries.

Google put it up. The new tool lets you map the path of any word through time. “Beseech”? It’s way past its prime. “God”? That word peaked in 1830. “Twitter”? It was huge in 1900, and coming back, changed.

We look at our history, and life, in words.

Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Erez Lieberman Aiden, co-author of the article “Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books,” which appeared in the most recent issue of the journal Science. He’s a fellow with the Harvard University Society of Fellows.

Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist at the University of California Berkeley School of Information.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
RECENT
SHOWS
Jun 9, 2016

Newly-minted college graduates on the job hunt. We’ll look at who’s hiring, starting salaries, and strategies for landing that first job.

 
Jun 9, 2016

Europe, India and China, are taking on American tech giants over privacy, monopolies, and more. We’ll look at the global technology pushback against the U.S.A.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Jessica Valenti: ‘Objectification Is About Dehumanizing People’
Wednesday, Jun 8, 2016

“There is some power in laying claim to the word victim.” — Jessica Valenti on the Stanford sexual assault case, and the importance of language.

More »
Comment
 
Why The ‘Roots’ Remake Matters (And What Stays The Same)
Tuesday, Jun 7, 2016

The recent remake of “Roots” on the History Channel makes important changes, Morehouse College’s Stephane Dunn argues. But it also holds true to the original story.

More »
Comment
 
Former Trump Advisor Roger Stone: ‘Trump’s Going To Be The Next President’
Monday, Jun 6, 2016

Longtime political consultant Roger Stone apologizes for his “two martini tweets,” even as he predicts Donald Trump will be the next U.S. president.

More »
Comment