The question I'm talking about: Which of 法国, 法兰西, and 法兰斯 is the most common word for France?

In my opinion, simple which-is-used-more questions already have a perfect answer if the asker learn to use the right tool, namely Google Ngram Viewer. Unless the question explicitly asks for:

  • frequency in oral communications (that Ngram will not show because it collects data from books), and there is evidence that it may differ significantly from that of written communications, or
  • frequency in a particular geographic area (not supported by Ngram), or
  • in a dialect, e.g. Cantonese or Min Nan (probably not supported by Ngram, or too little data to be useful), or
  • if it's about usage in a particular sentence (which makes it a question)

it is unlikely we as answerers can provide a more accurate and objective answer than the tool, after all, Google scanned millions of books[1], more than any of us would ever read in a lifetime.

So it is my opinion that we should close this kind of questions as off-topic, and include Google Ngram Viewer in the list of recommended learning resources. What do you think?

Edit 1: clarified some aspects of the proposal, see edit history.

2 Answers 2


i would say no. they should be allowed.

the google ngram viewer doesn’t have “corpus” of traditional chinese.

and, search in simplified chinese would trigger a reminder:

Classical Chinese (before 1900) uses a vocabulary and grammar that differs significantly from modern Chinese.

we need some margins for questions asking in traditional chinese, or about words in classical / literary chinese; cause the ngram viewer is not a good tool.

as usual, just an opinion :)

  • But we have to take into account that most question that asks which is used more only concerns modern-day usage, and as for traditional Chinese, unless it's Cantonese (or maybe 闽南话), it's very likely that the corresponding simplified Chinese has equal or similar usage-frequency as their traditional counterpart, and Ngram converts trad. Chinese into simp. Chinese automatically (try 戰爭與和平,在人間, it becomes 战争 与 和平 and 在 人间).
    – zypA13510
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 11:38
  • unfortunately, the assumption of “it’s very likely . . .” is false :( eg: both traditional chinese words “鬱鬱” “鬱郁” would be “郁郁” in simplified chinese. so, the ngram would give a larger number of occurrence, which is incorrect. Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 11:45
  • further, the chinese history, culture are recorded in classical / literary text. any analytic tools failed to handle such situation is, simply half-baked, if not unacceptable. Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 11:50
  • well, 鬱鬱 means unhappy, lush roughly, dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/cgi-bin/cbdic/… Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 11:52
  • while 鬱郁 means aromatic only, dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/cgi-bin/cbdic/… Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 11:55
  • the sin of simplified chinese can be shown by this example: it mixed completely different words into one. when one read “郁郁”, one need to guess it’s in traditional / simplified, then guess again which meaning is more appropriate. Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 12:01
  • Another question would be how likely is this going to happen? Just one counterexample does not mean the part about likely is false. If for the majority of words the statement stands, which I'm uncertain of because I use simp. Chinese primarily, then it is still a very accurate tool. If it is, let's say, 98% accurate, then I see no harm why not use it.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 12:03
  • fyi, “郁郁” also is a valid word in traditional chinese, which means good literary grace, lush, dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/cgi-bin/cbdic/… Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 12:04
  • one counterexample? you’re kidding. the list is long, just check any debates about trad vs simp chinese. Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 12:08
  • I did say which I'm uncertain of.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 12:19
  • be clam :) the more you learn, the more you discover, it’s certain ( ^o^) Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 12:37

The word most commonly word may differ in different region. It not just a character mapping. This wiki page has a list of some of them.

When referring to traditional Chinese, people may want the result where the tradition script is used, which may differ from the result in simplified Chinese.

  • Yes, I'm aware of that page. My initial sentiment is that, even if they do differ, they are rarely ambiguous. Glad that @水巷孑蠻 taught me something new :)
    – zypA13510
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 1:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .