Saturday, June 5, 2010

Siamese Twins #1

Siamese twins. No, not Chang and Eng. It's a grammatical concept to describe couplets like 'spic and span'. Together, they mean 'clean', but only together. You can't say, "this floor is spic, but I don't think it's span enough." You can't say 'span and spic' either. They're fixed.

So which is Googled more?

In the case of 'spic and span', no surprise, since 'span' is a useful word by itself, and 'spic' is just a racial slur. Except in Macedonia, where it is hugely Googled, and presumably means something else.

Heaven and hell: fascinating, this one, and probably worth its own column. Heaven beats hell, but not by much. And the odd thing is that the gap is narrowing: recently, hell has surpassed heaven. The countries biggest on heaven are the Philippines, the UK and Australia, but people in New Zealand and the Czech Republic Google hell more than heaven.

I'm not sure that 'cranny' means anything at all, separated from 'nook'. And 'nook' isn't the most meaningful word either - at least not till recently. That huge spike is the result of Barnes & Noble launching something I can't be bothered to learn about called 'Nook'.

Now that's a beautiful graph. And I didn't expect to find these two words so closely linked: after all, 'pros' also means 'professionals', and 'cons' also means 'convicts' (and why has no-one ever made a TV show about those two groups of people and called it 'Pros & Cons'?). But they are clearly linked, on a delightfully zigzaggy graph that appears to be diverging ever so slightly.

For reasons that might not be 100% noble, the ladies leave the gentlemen completely in the dust. The nations that have Googled 'ladies' most (Ethiopia leads the pack) haven't Googled 'gentlemen' at all.

With court cases being popular reading material, but the internet being based on infamously buggy computers, I wasn't sure whether 'trial' or 'error' would be Googled more, but in retrospect it's obvious: computer error messages are one of the few truly practical uses for Google. It's in India where those computers screw up most.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment