2004-12-18

Expling gets Googlecached. The problem of Infinite Recursion.

This evening I received an e-mail from a faculty member who happened to be using Google to investigate the recency and frequency of novel slang-words. (The words connect to SHEW, but let's leave the professor anonymous). His message reads:

So here I was looking up "procrasturbate" and making my way from the 229 google hits for clues on how long this has been around, when one of the sites I clicked on jumped out at me, first for the fact that it also lists such of our faves as "frape", "veggiesexual", and "facebook (v.)", and my first thought was oh no, these words we're getting are all listed on and downloadable from this website. But then I noticed something else, as you will too: http://expling.blogspot.com/2004/12/joining-fracas.html is, it would appear, *yours*! You could have warned me!

As I too subscribe to Googlinguistics a methodological principle, the fact that our posts here get Googlecached (and rather quickly too) creates certain problems, such as the fact that Google-attestations may be second-order attestations. Or, for that matter, third-order, fourth-order, etc. Given that this very post contains a link to another post within this site, one begins to muse on the problem of self-referentiality and infinite recursion. Mind-warping stuff (if I may use the cliché).

2 Comments:

Blogger LO said...

It can get worst, as Mark Liberman at Language Log points out:

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000194.html

They have lots of discussion about the caveat of Google statistics. Bottom line is: always check your hits to see if your sample looks random enough.

2:45 AM  
Blogger The Neologiac Spooneristocrat said...

Thanks, LO. Yes, Liberman's points are useful, and well-out.

12:15 AM  

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