Sunday, January 08, 2006

Disabling word stemming in Google searches

Google treats plural words inconsistently. I know of no codified set of rules that adequately describe how Google treats singulars and plurals. Sometimes it seems that if you search for the singular it also returns plural results (or vice versa), but other times not. Note that the process of converting a word from plural to singular is sometimes known as word stemming or simply stemming.

I did just notice the following quirk: if you enclose a single word in quotes, Google apparently will only search for that word as is, and not in its variants. So, if I search for cats without quotes I get 59,500,000 results, but if I merely enclose that single word in quotes, "cats", I get 53,200,000 results, although the results on the first page appear the same. And if I search for cat I get 171,000,000 results, but if I search for "cat" I get 141,000,000 results, although the first page of results is the same except that the stock quote for Caterpillar, Inc. is not displayed if quotes were used. Got that?


-- Jack Krupansky


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