Intrepid Reader Mike of Charlotte, NC, recently expressed criticism of my writing style, terming it “blathering” and “self-aggrandizement.” He’s kinda got a point, as I do have a tendency to run on. I probably would have expressed it differently, though, perhaps calling it something akin to “expansive musing.” Mike also referred to me as a “beeatch,” which leads me to today’s topic. Don’t worry that WordsWordsWords might be feeling beaten about the head and shoulders by Mike’s verbal harshness. It was all in good fun, and it prompted some interesting conversation. When the dust had settled, we each had a new friend.
After our little exchange, I began to think about the word he spelled as “beeatch.” Had I been the one to write that word, I would have used the spelling “beeotch,” both because I believe I’ve seen it written that way before, and because that’s how I’ve heard this fanciful expansion of “bitch” pronounced—i.e., rhyming with botch, not batch.
To check out this question, I turned to googlefight.com, a website that I heard about from my professor in a translation class. It’s a great tool for quick and dirty research on terms.
The concept is very simple. There are two search boxes on the page, calling for Keyword #1 and Keyword #2. Put in your two terms, and the site runs parallel Google searches, yielding a graph that compares the approximate number of results for the two. This is the page’s sole function; there are no actual results or anything else—just a comparison of number of results for the two searches. If you feel you need to do more research on how a term is being used or what types of sources it’s appearing in, you have to go elsewhere. Results take a few seconds; you’re treated to a graphic of two stick men duking it out during the wait.
I use googlefight to compare the prevalence of two different terms, or to check spelling. In this case, I popped in “beeatch” and “beeotch.” I found out that my preferred spelling was indeed a bit more prevalent than Mike’s (6290 v. 5430 results), but neither had as many hits as I’d expected. I would have thought a term that’s gained such prevalence in informal English would be at least well into the five figures.
I did a bit more guessing at possible spellings, consulting the Urban Dictionary. With the help of several more googlefight searches, I discovered that “biatch” turned out to be the spelling with the largest number of hits (168,0000). There are a dozen or so variants, with every combination of the following factors–ee or i in the first syllable, a or o in the second syllable, hyphenated or not hyphenated, and a y present or absent between the two syllables (bee-atch, beeyotch, and so forth).
Googlefight can also be used just for fun—I assume this was the goofy reason it was invented. Links on the site lead you to classic fights—like pen vs. sword, Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader, or god vs. Satan. The funny fights category includes hot dog vs. hamburger.
You get the idea. Use this convenient yet silly tool for fun or for linguistic pursuits. (In my case, they’re the same thing.) While I was there, I had to check out one burning question: prescriptive grammar—2690; descriptive grammar—13,300. Woohoo!