Google Books – Cloud of “Common Terms and Phrases”

In the old days, scientists who studied language change used to look at words used in language over time, noting changes in their frequency. You can imagine how this work was done forty years ago: operators punching computing cards, a big mainframe computer being fed words overnight, and an encoded output that had to be typeset again into book form.

Now Google’s computing infrastructure can do this work in a few seconds. Starting today, you’ll find a cloud of “Common Terms and Phrases” on the Book Overview page for some of the books in the Google Books database. This cloud represents the distribution of words in a book: big terms are more common in the book, while small terms are rarer.

So, for instance, if you’d like to know what Faust’s dreifacher Hollenzwang is all about (Gold und Geld so it seems), you’ll get something that looks like a wordpress tag cloud:


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