A weblog by Will Fitzgerald


I enjoyed reading the Wikipedia page about its “lamest edit wars.” One of these edit wars was whether the article on what Americans call “aluminum” and what Brits call “aluminium” should have, as its fundamental title, “Aluminum,” or “Aluminium.” And, one of the arguments presented in favo(u)r of “Aluminum” was that more Google hits are available for the US spelling than the UK spelling. “Ghits” is notoriously unreliable (as are Bing hits and the other search engines), since the number of search results reported are subject to lots of factors, not of which is tied directly to actual number of documents returned.

However, Bing (my employer) has recently provided programmatic access to its data on ngrams (frequency statistics based on the number of word tokens) found on web pages, query logs and anchor text (the data inside links). And I can safely express that the US spelling is much more frequently used. Here is the actual data, based on the June 2009 data release:

Source P(Aluminum) P(Aluminium) Ratio US:UK
Body text 0.00852 0.00487 1.76
Anchor text 0.00727 0.00426 1.70
Query text 0.00974 0.00483 2.01

So, as a data point: “aluminum” is around twice as frequent as “aluminium” on the Web.

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