1. Think of five related words in a given semantic field, e.g. very, really, extremely, completely, totally or sick, ill, infirm, unwell, unhealthy, etc. (Feel free to use a thesaurus if you'd like: 1 2 3).

2. Use Google Books (155 billion words, 1810-2009), COHA (400m words, 1810-2009), the TIME Corpus (100m words, 1923-2006), and COCA (425m words, 1990-present) to examine the historical trajectory of these five related words over time. Please use charts to show frequency over time-- preferably all words on one chart.

  • Which are on the increase, and which are on the decrease?

  • What would you predict would be the state of affairs 20 or 50 years from now, if things continue as is?

  • Has there been any significant meaning change with the words over time (use collocates)

Two other questions:

-- What were the methodological issues involved in using these corpora?

-- In COCA, how are the historical shifts related to variation between genres?