LATE ADDENDUM: Same wonderings, better Googlings
In response to 8'FED's suggestions in comments below, I decided to try to Google smarter. Eschewing his scientific approach for what we'll call a journalist's approach (which 1. thinks in terms of news sources and 2. still allows for incredible laziness), I tried a Google News search instead of a Google Web search.
Low and bee-holed (I always wanted to write that), turns out Google has a new "Timeline" feature in its news archive search feature that sorts stuff by year. So here is a survey of "snarky" in Google-logged news sources for the last four years:
2005 = 1,660 hits
2006 = 2,540 hits
2007 = 2,690 hits
2008 = 3,000 hits.
So this new, more scientific evidence is better proof of how wrong I was when I guessed that "snarky" was on its way out.
Aaaah ... it's good to be right about being wrong.
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Okay, this one is hardly scientific. But it's the best I could do given the limitations of this here Google tool.
I wanted to know whether the word "snarky" had passed its prime. In my personal experience, its use peaked a few years ago and has been on the wane ever since. So I tried the following (obviously flawed) search terms and came up with some interesting results.
snarky and 2001 = 162,000 hits
snarky and 2002 = 181,000 hits
snarky and 2003 = 267,000 hits
snarky and 2004 = 378,000 hits
snarky and 2005 = 495,000 hits
snarky and 2006 = 673,000 hits
snarky and 2007 = 897,000 hits
snarky and 2008 = 1,141,000 hits
Obviously, not everyone who ever used the word "snarky" prefaced it with "I am writing this in the year 2007," for example. Still, to whatever extent searched pages contain mention of their dates of creation, this sure as heck disproves my "ding, dong, the snarky is dead" theory.
If only the stock market could reflect a similar pattern.