Geeking Out on Words Just Got Easier

BY Hari Sreenivasan  December 23, 2010 at 1:32 PM EDT

With the release of Google Books Ngram Viewer, diving through the rise and fall of a word’s usage across 5.2 million books spanning several decades became quite easy.

While researchers at Google Labs and Harvard even have a new word for it — culturnomics: “the application of high-throughput data collection and analysis to the study of human culture” — the tool is insightful and, dare I say, fun.

For a bit of perspective on Ngram, we caught up with Erin McKean, CEO of Wordnik, a site that encourages the study of every word in the English language. She also gave us some insight into new words that might make their way into our vernacular.

In the spirit of wording, we’re trying something new with this video, which is to use Universal Subtitles to crowdsource a transcription and perhaps a translation. Let’s see how it works.

Follow @Hari and Erin McKean on Twitter. This video was edited by Lauren Knapp.