Communication and Construction of Monstrous Embodiment
June 15-16, 2012

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

"Freaky" terminology in Google's Ngram Viewer

Just a short post today about something that one of the conference organisers has been playing around with in liu of facing actual work. If you've encountered Google's Ngram viewer before then perhaps you have already thought to input the various words typically associated with the extraordinary body throughout history to see what you get. If not, then we'd like to share the following:

This graph represents the use of different terminology over time (from 1700 - 2000) as found in Google Books' digitized collection (click on the image for the full size, click on the in-text link for the details of search criteria or to run your own).

Breaking that down into labels which might, historically, have been associated with, or at least which now tend to be associated with historical/cultural conceptions of, extraordinary bodies - namely "monstrous," "deformed," "disabled," and "freak" - suggests some surprising trends in usage.

Below are a series of related breakdowns.

Monster, monstrous, monstrosity:

Deformed, deformity:

Disabled, disability:

Given that the Google Books collection is far from extensive and doesn't take into account the context of the words, to read any conclusive meaning into these graphs would be unwise. Nevertheless, they are intriguing in and of themselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment