Injury v. Accident: Google N-gram Viewer (2)

Many thanks to Brian for calling terminology buffs’ attention to this really catchy Google Books Ngram Viewer.

But as far as injury terminology goes, I do not think those graphs quite settle the question; the matter certainly deserves a harder look.

First, the true science of injury control actually started out in the sixties, so that all prior preventive considerations would include the hodgepodge vocable accident, which was thereafter so much criticized. On the other hand, since we are dealing with such a youngish science, why leave out the most recent years? Thus, it is only fair to start our analysis in the late fifties and come as far as the Google Books corpora allow, which is 2008.

Second, it seems wise to consider general language publications along with fiction texts, so that we can at least infer how the trends of scientific writing are detached from the mainstream.

Let’s see: (Click twice on the image to see it in full size)

It is plain to see that in recent years accident prevention keeps going downslope, and – surprise – both in general English and fiction. Injury prevention is frankly on the rise, as that apparent plateau certainly reflects the slower shift of positions in the British publications, albeit the latter follow the overall trend.

American English: (Click twice on the image to see it in full size)

British English: (Click twice on the image to see it in full size)

The term injury control has a dismal performance, but the news is the upsurge of risk control – both in general language and in fiction-, which certainly merits attention.

And last, but not least, it is important to consider that the proper definition of injury is essential within the scientific writing. I do not speak English, and in my language the lay notion of the word which is equivalent in meaning to injury is predominantly that of moral offense. However, as a preventionist I am perfectly aware that an injury event is no accident, and when I try to teach that difference to people I do not have to feel I am being forced to speak a foreign tongue.

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