Ngram Viewer- Revolutionary Dialogue Over the Past Five Centuries

The following four Ngram Viewers track terminology closely associated with revolutionary discourse within American English: aristocracy, bourgeois, bourgeoisie, proletariat, proletarian. I shifted the time scale to see overall trends and then more detailed trends within certain centuries.  The first graph looks at these words as far back as Ngram Viewer goes, 1500.

1500-2008

1500-to-2008

In this graph we can see the use of these terms beginning in about 1560 and an impressive peak of aristocracy; Unfortunately, I am not too familiar with early modern history. However, I am more concerned with the years that follow 1700.

1700-2008

1700-to-2008

This graph shows the use of the five terms following from the 1700s to 2008. However, the only term used significantly before the late 19th century was aristocracy.

In the 18th century, the world aristocracy began to rise steadily. This increase correlates directly with the American Revolution of the 1770’s and then the French Revolution that follows in the 1790’s. However, aristocracy, along with the four other terms, dips significantly only to rise extensively following the Revolutions of 1848. Following this period the term becomes frequently used within the 20th century. However, whether this term is used in relation to revolutionary discourse or academic discourse; Although, the two tend to be closely related. Following the 1960’s the use of the term drops significantly. Interestingly, aristocracy begins to pick up around 2004 with a significant rise in usage. This rise could relate to current discourses and discussion with the American political sphere. Unfortunately, Ngram’s 2008 limitation makes it difficult to determine whether aristocracy continues to grow in use or whether 2004 to 2008 was a period of interest within the concept. However, the four other terms, bourgeoisie/bourgeois and proletarian/proletariat, increase within periods of revolution.

1800 – 2008

1800-to-2008

1900 – 2008

1900-to-2008

These two trends focus directly from the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century. They both show years of increase use but also show significant periods.

The first increase correlates with the American Revolution and the French Revolution, similar to the aristocracy. After the turn of the 20th century, the four other terms rise significantly and the first peak of revolutionary discourse across the globe; two examples are the Russian Revolution, German Revolution. However, the majority of the 20th-century show’s  massive use of the terms with specific peaks during the mid-1930’s and 1970’s. What I found fascinating about these charts is the significant drop in all terms following the 1970’s. This extensive use of all five words depicts the political unrest that plagued much of the 20th century as well as the rise and fall of the political power of Socialist/Communist ideologies.

However, these charts still prove problematic for specific reasons. Firstly, It is unclear whether these terms are used in American writing with positive or negative connotations, or whether it is both for that matter. Secondly, the reader is unable to determine that these words are referring to the United States or within a global context; although, individual spikes can be analyzed, yet the overall trend is undeterminable.

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