Categories
Miscellany

Google Books Ngram Viewer

Google does some interesting things. Ngram Viewer which I found about just today is one such. To know what the Ngram viewer does, we first need to know what an Ngram is. Well, according to Wikipedia, an Ngram is “a subsequence of n items from a given sequence.” If you just wanted to know how often a single word appears in a whole book, or a series of books, it would be a unigram for the word. Similarly, there would be bigrams for pairs of words, and n-gram for a group of n words.
So, what Google’s n-gram viewer does is, it looks for a word or group of words in all the books scanned by Google Books — millions of them — and tells us how often the words have appeared in those books. This gives us an idea of how trends have been, even before the Internet.
Read about the n-gram viewer on the Official Google Blog, or head over to the n-gram viewer to do your own search.
I did a comparison search for “India, Britain, England, USA” and following is what I found.
Google N-gram Viewer
You can draw your own conclusions from the chart. Note that the searches are case sensitive.

Categories
Miscellany

Dhar Mann – Raja of Ganja?

Dhar Mann, picture from FacebookOK, another Indian sounding name was in the news today – Dhar Mann. The news on CNN was “‘Walmart of Weed’ to open in Arizona, promote growing your own“.
So, here is the background: Marijuana, Cannabis or Ganja (as we Indians know it) is illegal in most of the United States. In the state of California (and apparently in some other states), however, you are allowed to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use — obviously upon obtaining a doctor’s prescription. This prescription, as expected, is misused by many to consume, grow and even illegally deal in this “drug”. Now, for obvious reasons (among them: privacy, cost, and type of growing environment needed), it is best to grow marijuana indoors. This brings us to Hydroponics, which is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. This is where Mr. Mann comes in. Betting on the market associated with the equipment needed to grow marijuana, he started a group of specialty stores selling such equipment. Today, his company WeGrow Store stepped outside California and opened its first store in Arizona. Here’s the news from CNN about the store opening:




Reading the news and looking at the name, I thought Dhar Mann does have a very Indian sound to it. Dhar is not really a common first name among Indians, but it is used as a last name or middle name in many communities. If a name starts with a bh, dh, or a jh, I go straight for the South Asian. Mann could have been German, but the dh was too much of a giveaway, so I wiki-ed the name and sure enough there was a Wiki page on Dhar Mann, pronouncing that

He is the son of Baljit and Surrender Singh, the wealthy owners of Friendly Cab, who for a time held a near monopoly on taxi service in Oakland, California.

Well, so Dhar Mann could be a short form of Dharmender Singh Mann, or something like that. But, aren’t Sikhs traditionally non-smokers? Well, this is what the Wikipedia page on Cannabis (drug) says:

Cannabis is also known to have been used by the ancient Hindus and Nihang Sikhs of India and Nepal thousands of years ago. The herb was called ganjika in Sanskrit (गांजा/গাঁজা ganja in modern Indic languages). The ancient drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas, was sometimes associated with cannabis

Well Sikh religion didn’t even exist “thousands of years ago”, so I am not sure what he Wikipedia author in this case was smoking.