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Author Topic: Gremlins in the 19th Century?  (Read 1590 times)
RJBowman
Zeppelin Captain
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« on: October 07, 2015, 12:55:10 am »

I just looked up usage of the word "Gremlin" on Google's Ngram Generator:

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=gremlin&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cgremlin%3B%2Cc0#t1%3B%2Cgremlin%3B%2Cc1

The Ngram tool plots the usage of words in the books in Google Books' database. As expected, the word gremlin emerged at the beginning of World War II, peaked in the 1940s then plunged, re-emerged in the 1970s and has been rising ever since.

Surprising, however, is that there is a blip in the early 19th century.

I can't figure out how to find the exact books that are being cited by the Ngram generator. It might be that this occurrence is due to a typesetting mistake, or an OCR glitch, except that the word seems to appear multiple years.

Did the word "gremlin" have an earlier different meaning, or was the aviation folklore of the 1940's derived from a brief trend in the early 19th century? Can anyone tell me how to track the specific books that are referenced by the Ngram generator?
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RJBowman
Zeppelin Captain
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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2015, 01:23:51 am »

Mystery solved:
https://www.google.com/search?lr=lang_en&tbo=p&tbm=bks&q=gremlin&tbs=,cdr:1,cd_min:Jan+1_2+1800,cd_max:Dec+31_2+1820&num=100

Each book referenced contains a word that is similar but not the same as "gremlin", which were recorded by Google's OCR software as "gremlin". It just happened that they were all in a cluster.

So what caused this very localized glitch that only affected a very concentrated historic period of less than two decades? Who could have tampered with Google's systems to cause this?

The world will never know.
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Maets
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2015, 01:29:08 am »



Probably not the Gremlin you are looking for.
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