Monday, December 20, 2010

Providence vs. Progress

I recently read an article in the Times about Google's new Ngram Viewer, which allows you to graph the frequency of use of words in the books (about 5.2 million) that Google has scanned.  I ran a comparison of the words "Providence" and "Progress," as seen in print between 1600 and 2008, and got this:

Pretty striking the way "progress" takes off around 1780 and goes through the roof in the early 19th century, while "providence" droops.  What are we to make of this?

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