500 billion words analysed23 February, 2011
Researchers from Google, Harvard and Encyclopedia Britannica just finished a four-year project, analysing over five million books (four per cent of all books ever published). The “digital fossil record,” as they call it, contains over half a trillion words in seven languages.
One of the findings: In just 100 years, the English language doubled in size, from 544,000 words in 1900, to 1,022,000 in 2000. (Could that explain why your grandparents seemed to talk less than you?)
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