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Most popular phrase (ngram) in English

Posted 7 years ago
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I've read that the most commonly-used phrase in modern American English (both written and spoken) is "I don't know".

Is there a way to construct this as a workable query? Wolfram Alpha seems to understand questions about the most common letter or most common/popular word, but doesn't parse questions about phrases or ngrams.

9 Replies
Posted 7 years ago

IMHO it's not IDK. (That's all I will say re: Community Guidelines)

Posted 7 years ago

Douglas...I'm not sure what in the Guidelines you're referring to, but if you have more to add, please feel free. I am looking for "most common phrase" info, and am hoping that Wolfram Alpha is a useful tool for exploration of that topic.

I think he was joking.

Interesting question. You probably need to say whether you mean spoken, written or say internet-published text - or all of them. Wolfram Language can tell you for sure how many instances in a particular text:

Grid[{#[[2]], 
    Length[StringCases[ExampleData[#], "I don't know"]]} & /@ {
   {"Text", "DonQuixoteIEnglish"},
   {"Text", "AliceInWonderland"},
   {"Text", "OriginOfSpecies"}}, Alignment -> Left, Frame -> All]

enter image description here

Posted 7 years ago

Thanks, Sam. Google has a pretty nifty ngram tool that shows the trends of any given phrase over time, based on the massive collection in Google Books. I can also use to compare the relative frequencies of selected words or phrases, e.g., "The Three Musketeers" vs "The Three Stooges".

But it doesn't get me insights into the most common phrases, which is what I'm after. Is there a way to get there? All I can say is, "I don't know".

David

Posted 7 years ago

I've read that the most commonly-used phrase in modern American English (both written and spoken) is "I don't know".

Using Google's ngram tool i took a wild guess at a phrase and the evolution of culture. Your reference may be out of date.

enter image description here

Posted 7 years ago

Try it again, but this time click the "case insensitive" button. Let us know what you turn up.

Posted 7 years ago

Try it again, but this time click the "case insensitive" button. Let us know what you turn up.

A gain for both but with I do not know winning.. I missed the i (I) on a laptop screen.

Tolerance of this post does not mean that such language is generally acceptable on the Wolfram Community.

(A better comparison phrase could have been chosen.)

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