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December 08, 2010

Syntax was winning

An unusual experiment in statistical analysis.

The titles of every British book published in English in and around the 19th century — 1,681,161, to be exact — are being electronically scoured for key words and phrases that might offer fresh insight into the minds of the Victorians.
Dan Cohen and Fred Gibbs, the two historians of science at George Mason University who have created the project, have so far charted how frequently more than two dozen words — among them “God,” “love,” “work,” “science” and “industrial” — appear in British book titles from the French Revolution in 1789 to the beginning of World War I in 1914.

Which suggests they have got as far as to ask about the terms they imagine were important to the Victorians.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at December 8, 2010 08:47 AM