Google Ngram Viewer and the Russian Revolution

Google’s new Ngram viewer–you can use it to chart usage of a certain word in all books uploaded to google books from the beginning of the nineteenth century til now–includes Russian.  This could provide hours of amusement.  One of the best things about the Russian feature is that you can see very pronounced changes at around 1917.  For example, “Marxism” shoots up out of nowhere–you could have guessed, maybe, but I thought with all the intellectual ferment of the nineteenth century he’d have come up a tad more gradually.  Then there’s iskrennost’ –“sincerity,” which dropped sharply to a half of its original frequency after the revolution and has not recovered since.  Zhid— “Yid,” that is, took a few short years around to quadruple in usage–more antisemitism?  Sud’ba or “fate” took a pretty steep dip during the time of the USSR but has recently made a recovery.  Zhizn’ –“life” took a nosedive after the Revolution.  Who knows what this actually means, but what a cool tool when you like words and stuff.

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One response to “Google Ngram Viewer and the Russian Revolution

  1. I didn’t know this feature included Russian. Thanks for the tip. The first word I checked was кулак, which yielded a very interesting result.

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