What is it?
The TIME Magazine Corpus of American English is an online resource that allows users to search through 100 million words of text in roughly 275,000 articles of TIME Magazine from 1923 to 2006. The TIME Magazine corpus is part of a larger corpora of English created by Mark Davies, a professor of linguistics. It is primarily used as a research tool for users to locate words, phrases, and grammatical constructions, and see how American English has changed over time.
The website offers extremely helpful information for first time users on the home page and under the “Tour” tab. Tips on how to effectively search through the corpus and utilize all of its functions can be accessed in these locations. After registering for an account, users can go to the search tab and begin their research.
Once a word or phrase is submitted to the search engine, the results will show up under the “Frequency” tab. Here, users are provided with numerical information and a visual representation of how many times that word or phrase has shown up in TIME magazine since 1923. For example, searching the word “Annapolis,” shows us that TIME magazine mentioned it 783 times, most frequently during the 1940’s through the 1960’s.
Users can also specialize their search. For example, using the “Chart” option shows the total frequency for each decade with a bar graph enabling users to visualize the popularity of a word in TIME. Another option for searching is “Collocates,” which allows users to see what words show up frequently near the word that was searched. There is also a search option to “Compare,” words and their frequency with other words. Finally, there is a “KWIC,” (Keyword in Context) option, which allows users to see words that occur directly to the left, and/or right of the word that was searched.
Once all of the results are shown, users can click on a date they want to see, and are taken to the “Context,” tab which shows a glimpse of how the article is using the word that was searched. For example, here we can see that “Annapolis,” was mentioned in an article written on December 12th, 1950, explaining that after 254 years, St. Johns College will be accepting women applicants for enrollment.
This free resource is a fantastic research tool for people interested in a particular subject, or simply the ways American English has changed over time. Users have the option to complete simple searches, or dive even deeper to explore the ways that words are used on their own, or in conjunction with other words. This varying level of sophistication makes it an accessible tool to a wide range of users.