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Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Google Ngram -- another bit of fun


 This is very jolly -- I was looking at Mike Pitts's blog, and came across this thing called Google Ngram.  Google has now digitized thousands (millions?) of books, and has the ability to instantly scan through all those pages so as to pick up a frequency of mentions of particular words or groups of words.  The site is here:

http://books.google.com/ngrams

Just for fun, I entered in "spotted dolerite", "bluestones" and "Preseli" to see what came up.  The resulting graph is above -- click to enlarge.

I was interested to see that the word "bluestones" has been around for a long time, and appeared a lot in print around 1880 and 1900-1905.  But there does not appear to be any correlation with the word "Preseli" until 1922-23, which of course was the time when HH Thomas's ideas suddenly hit the world of archaeology.  And since the 1950's the word "bluestones" becomes much more popular -- the influence of Richard Atkinson must have been very great in this regard.

It's also interesting that there was a lapse of interest in these words "bluestones" and "spotted dolerite" in the 1990's, with things picking up again in the present century.  (There is not much data in the last few years, because Google has been having all sorts of copyright disputes with publishers, over digitisation......)

All very interesting and frivolous......

3 comments:

Lloyd said...

Very interesting; I have found that cross-referencing the ‘Ngram’ phrases plus the dates on which all phrases appear on the graph, in Google, creates some interesting research leads. Whether this is going to be useful to this inexperienced researcher time will tell, but I have noted the comment 'frivolous'.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, yes, it is fairly frivolous -- but like many frivolous things it might throw up some interesting lines of research. For example, you can track when certain ideas or products -- or words -- started to become fashionable, and then also how they fell out of fashion. I can imagine that marketing people might use it in quite a serious way.

Lloyd said...

Brian; would any of your contributors be able to recommend any authoritative books that I could read, so I could obtain a better understanding of stone age Britain. Prior to joining this discussion group, I purchased “The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age – Richard Rudgley”; would your contributors have any comments regarding this book?