Monday, July 20, 2009

Shakespeare Plays, or Shakespeare Poems

Here’s an interesting question for a Monday might.  I’m playing around with the Google Suggest API, and I noticed that if you just feed it “Shakespeare” you get some interesting results.

First, “Shakespeare plays” is one of the most common queries, coming in at 2million hits.  Pretty big, given that “Shakespeare quotes” only gets 800k, and “Shakespeare sonnets” gets 600k.

But something else got 5 million hits.  Know what?  “Shakespeare poems.”

That’s odd to me.  [It’s not a quirk, if I switch to searching on the possessive “Shakespeare’s”, then the poems still come out ahead by almost twice as much over the plays.]

I almost never think of the Works as poems in the traditional sense.  If I mean the sonnets I say the sonnets.  I’m pretty sure that the long narratives aren’t carrying that kind of traffic by themselves.

Is it some cultural thing I’m unfamiliar with?  Over in Europe are they referring to the Canon in general as poems?  What’s the explanation for this odd statistic?


[By the way, the winner, with 7 million hits … is the movie Shakespeare in Love.  That doesn’t count. :)]

1 comment:

catkins said...

I would bet that most people are referring to The Sonnets when they say Shakespeare's poems. Want to bet a lot of people are not sure how to spell "sonnet"? Did you check "Shakespeare's sonets"? And I would not be surprised if some people do not know that the only non-narrative poems he wrote were sonnets.