Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The development of Linguistics seen through ngram

Linguists have been pretty enthusiastic about the Google ngram viewer, mostly for fun. We've used it some here, in fact. Recently, an image has been circulating of hits for 'phonology' showing a rise in the use of the term over the period of classical generative phonology (from before The Sound Pattern of English into the late 1970s), a period of stability until a decline set in in the early/mid 1990s. I'm not sure who did it, so won't reproduce it here, but here's the search, and you can attach your own dates to the rise and fall of particular frameworks (see also below).

More interesting than the tracking of single terms is comparison. Look, for instance, at the relationship between phonetics and phonology (click to embiggen, as always):

Or take the rise of a basic new field, sociolinguistics, compared to a more traditional related area, dialectology:

Or take a particular principle/law, using neogrammarian and Neogrammarian because ngram is case sensitive, compared to lexical diffusion:

Even more fun are comparisons of particular theories or frameworks ... see for yourself.

No comments: