Brigham Young University hosts a number of searchable corpora of English usage. The site is an invaluable resource for determining how words and phrases are used in different genres and registers, regions, and dates.

Corpora on the site include:

Newspapers on the Web (NOW) Corpus, 2.8 billion words, 2010–present

Global Web-Based English, 1.9 billion words, 2012–13

Wikipedia Corpus, 1.9 billion words, up to 2014

Hansard Corpus (British Parliament), 1.6 billion words, 1803-2005

Corpus of Contemporary American English, 520 million words, 1990–2015

Corpus of Historical American English, 400 million words, 1810–2009

TIME Magazine Corpus, 100 million words, 1923–2006

Corpus of American Soap Operas, 100 million words, 2001–12

British National Corpus, 100 million words, 1980–93

Strathy Corpus (Canada), 50 million words, 1970–2010

Corpus of Online Registers of English (CORE), 50 million words, up to 2014

Corpus del Español, 100 million words, 1200–2000

Corpus do Português, 45 million words, 1300–2000

Urban Dictionary

An online compendium of slang. Urban Dictionary is crowd sourced with no apparent editorial supervision. Therefore, it cannot be taken as accurate or authoritative, but when used with care it can be a valuable source for information on recent slang that has yet to be recognized by more traditional references.


Journalists love to write articles on language. Not only, since they make their livings with words, do they have a professional interest in the topic, but language is a popular topic. People, at least those who read newspapers, love to read about it. The problem is that journalists often get it completely wrong.

A case in point is an article by Dan Bilefsky that appeared on the front page of the New York Times on 9 June about how use of the period, that staid and boring punctuation mark, is changing. In some forms of discourse, the period does not simply mark the end of a sentence, it conveys urgency or emotion. He gets the facts right, but Bilefsky utterly miscategorizes what is happening, framing the period as “going out of style” and “being felled.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

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