The Time Magazine Corpus digital tool compiles all Time magazine articles since 1923 and analyzes the changes in how the English language has been used and changed over time. This tool reveals how society and culture influenced trends in language with examples of words like “flapper”, “global warming”, and “hippy”. It’s easy to see how each of these words is associated with a certain period of time and how language changes with time. Additionally, researchers can view how parts of words have been used through time such as “-gate” as in “Watergate”, “-aholic” as in “shopaholic”, and common parts of words like “-dom” as in “Kingdom”.
By simply typing a word into the search bar section titled “Chart”, an analysis of how often that word has been used in Time broken down by decade and its frequency is demonstrated by the varied shades of color. By clicking on the decade you want to analyze, results will show you the instances and issues the searched word appears. This could come back with over 100,000 results so the more specific and distinct a word the better results you’ll get.
For example, typing the word “Mustang” in the chart section of the search bar quickly provides data on when the word is most frequently used. Not surprisingly, we see rises in frequency during the 1940s, when the P-51 Mustang was the most popular fighter of World War II, and in the 1960s, when the classic Ford Mustang was in its heyday. But the research doesn’t stop there, an additional click on the decade will show a second result broken down by each year in it. Here, we can see how in 1944 the word “Mustang” was most frequency used during the heart of World War II before dramatically dropping off in the post-war years. One more click will bring you to the lines in the issues published with “Mustang” in it displaying how useful this tool would be in researching this subject. However, by clicking the “List” part of the search bar, the results will take you directly to all the lines the word was used throughout history with no analysis of frequency through time. A third option is to click the ”Collocate” section of the search bar which allows you to search two words and get results to the times they were used near each other further narrowing results. By searching “Mustang” and “Germany”, you may be surprised to learn the two words only appear once near each other in a 1942 issue.
Thankfully, this tool acts as a Control+F search for the entirety of the Time magazine collection. I acclimated myself to this tool and found its usefulness far quicker that the Voyant tool because it is easier to navigate. The “Help” page was shorter and more concise providing examples of how the tool can be used and links to search result examples to demonstrate how the directions can be applied. One drawback for this tool is the need to register with an account and link your account with your university where as Voyant did not require that to use the tool.
Like the Voyant Digital Tool, the Time Magazine Corpus is hard to navigate and even harder to understand how to use. A very simple site and slow to load, the tool offers unbiased and accurate results that can be used to help researchers know where and when to look. Researchers now have the ability to contextualize language and pinpoint the areas they should look into. A very useful tool to analyze cultural shifts through language, this tool can clue us in on how fickle language is.