Textual Mining and Analysis: the Google nGram Viewer and Voyant Tools

Google nGram Viewer and Voyant Tools are two online tools that all scholars and teachers in the humanities should know about. For two reasons: 1. they are remarkably powerful and often yield surprising insights; and yet 2. they are both free and easy to use. Neither requires any knowledge of coding, and one can start using them almost immediately, without special training.

The two have different uses.

The Google nGram Viewer allows us to track the relative frequency with which single words or phrases appear in the books scanned by Google. Because these books number in the millions and span centuries, the nGram Viewer is useful for study linguistic and cultural change.

Voyant Tools, by contrast, offers different views of all the words in a single work or small number of works. It is a tool for textual analysis, and presents itself as a way of “seeing through”—much like X-ray images or MRIs—a particular text or author, either in isolation or comparatively.

In addition to these tools, researchers who work with Chinese and Japanese texts will want to know about these extensions (link to the page about Ctext and Aozora Search) to platforms that they are likely already using. (A clickable picture or GIF from Ctext tools should lead to the page about Ctext and Aozora Seach)

Getting Started with the Google nGram Viewer

Getting Started with Voyant Tools

For Researchers Working on China and Japan: Enhanced Perspectives on Aozora Bunko and Ctext

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