Do you have a telephone?

It’s funny, when I was younger it seemed we used the words telephone and phone almost perfectly interchangeably, but in this Iphone world it seems that “telephone” is a much rarer occurrence.  To the point that my two youngest kids asked the other day, “what’s the difference between a telephone and a phone” and seemed to think a telephone was an old rotary landline, or something like that.  Anyway, it occurred to me there is a way to see how our language usage has evolved– Google Ngrams.  I really wish this data came up past 2008, but it is nonetheless interesting to see how usage of “telephone” didn’t really drop, but “phone” shot way up.  I imagine the trend has only become more so in the past decade.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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