TWITTER DIALECTS.

An interesting ScienceDaily report on Twitter regionalisms:

Microbloggers may think they’re interacting in one big Twitterverse, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science find that regional slang and dialects are as evident in tweets as they are in everyday conversations.
Postings on Twitter reflect some well-known regionalisms, such as Southerners’ “y’all,” and Pittsburghers’ “yinz,” and the usual regional divides in references to soda, pop and Coke. But Jacob Eisenstein, a post-doctoral fellow in CMU’s Machine Learning Department, said the automated method he and his colleagues have developed for analyzing Twitter word use shows that regional dialects appear to be evolving within social media.
In northern California, something that’s cool is “koo” in tweets, while in southern California, it’s “coo.” In many cities, something is “sumthin,” but tweets in New York City favor “suttin.” While many of us might complain in tweets of being “very” tired, people in northern California tend to be “hella” tired, New Yorkers “deadass” tired and Angelenos are simply tired “af.”
The “af” is an acronym that, like many others on Twitter, stands for a vulgarity. LOL is a commonly used acronym for “laughing out loud,” but Twitterers in Washington, D.C., seem to have an affinity for the cruder LLS. …
Automated analysis of Twitter message streams offers linguists an opportunity to watch regional dialects evolve in real time. “It will be interesting to see what happens. Will ‘suttin’ remain a word we see primarily in New York City, or will it spread?” Eisenstein asked.

You can read the actual paper here (pdf). Thanks, Paul!

Comments

  1. à propos de “af” = “a fulgarity”: twitter profanity map without any profanity

  2. Wasn’t it said not so long ago that northern Californians said “hecka”, southern Californians said “hella”, and midwesterners said “wicked”?
    I’ve had a couple of people to whom I mentioned this say they thought “hella” was northern Californian.
    I suppose one should take all such pronouncements with a GOS.

  3. Story is supar.

  4. I’m guessing the reason these Twitter-dialects are tied to specific regions in a statistically significant manner is that most people’s networks are local – communiqués don’t reach beyond dialect boundaries, and if inter-regional Twittering takes place, the participants most likely mutually settle upon a standard dialect (similar to what happens when Arabic speakers from different regions communicate).

    Automated analysis of Twitter message streams offers linguists an opportunity to watch regional dialects evolve in real time. “It will be interesting to see what happens. Will ‘suttin’ remain a word we see primarily in New York City, or will it spread?” Eisenstein asked.

    Spread would likely depend on the cultural capital of each region in terms of star-Twitterers. If a NYC Twitterer has a catchment area larger than the NY dialect area, then the dialect would spread. An interesting demonstration of this is the recent spread of “moc moc”. This was originally a salutation used only in the tweets between the Catalan-speaking footballing trio of Gerard Piqué and Carles Puyol of FC Barcelona, and Cesc Fàbregas of Arsenal. If you search for tweets containing ‘moc moc’, you’ll find it being used by Spanish-speakers world-wide, but so far, most of the people using it follow @3gerardpique, @cesc4official and @Carles5puyol.

  5. ^ Edit: insert ‘popular’ before ‘NYC’
    The paper only considers geographic origin. An interesting followup to the study (to test what I said in my first paragraph in ^[can it be called code-mixing?]) would be to consider the homogeneity of geographic destination whenever regionalisms are used), and later on, if those regionalisms are used in communications with people outside the dialect region.
    This is clearly apparent when different languages are concerned – Piqué uses Catalan when tweeting to Puyol, but Spanish for biographical tweets, and Spanish and English for messages to fans. I’m guessing that it’s different for dialects because the tweeter might not realize that a particular utterance is a regionalism.

  6. An interesting demonstration of this is the recent spread of “moc moc”. This was originally a salutation used only in the tweets between the Catalan-speaking footballing trio of Gerard Piqué and Carles Puyol of FC Barcelona, and Cesc Fàbregas of Arsenal. If you search for tweets containing ‘moc moc’, you’ll find it being used by Spanish-speakers world-wide, but so far, most of the people using it follow @3gerardpique, @cesc4official and @Carles5puyol.
    Intriguing! Can you provide any background on the origin/meaning of the expression? According to my Catalan dictionary, moc is ‘mucus,’ which isn’t very enlightening.

  7. This is totes the best paper EVAR.

  8. Intriguing! Can you provide any background on the origin/meaning of the expression? According to my Catalan dictionary, moc is ‘mucus,’ which isn’t very enlightening.

    In an interview, Piqué had the following to say about ‘moc moc’:

    Q. Staying on that topic [of Twitter], can you clear up a doubt we had? What does “moc, moc” mean?
    A. (Laughs) Ah, that doesn’t really mean anything. (Laughs again) It’s an expression that me and my friends [Carles] Puyol and Cesc [Fabregas] use on Twitter which means “I’m thinking about you”. It’s also because Cesc lives over in London and sometimes it feels like he’s very far away. It’s a way of bringing us all closer and keeping in touch.
    Source: http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/clubfootball/news/newsid=1370185.html

    That is understandable because Fabregas and Piqué grew up together in FC Barcelona’s cantera/residential youth-academy and are very close friends.
    According to Wikipedia, ‘moc moc’ is the Catalan equivalent of ‘honk honk’. I’m guessing their ‘moc moc’ is similar the ‘brap brap’ or ‘what what’ used in North America in similar situations.

  9. I thought “wicked” was New England.
    As a non-twitterer in NYC, “suttin” is new to me.
    I would be interested in seeing to what extent this happens among non-geographic communities, which I would expect to be enhanced by twitter.

  10. Decent Interval says:

    @LH
    My Catalan friend has sent me the following message:
    “Moc in Catalan means mucus, yes. But ‘moc moc’ represents the sound of a truck’s horn.”

  11. Thanks, SSK and Decent Interval, for explaining the term; I’ve added it to my Catalan dictionary.

  12. ben wolfson says:

    “hella” in northern california predates twitter by some time!

  13. I’m an active Twitterer in Washington, DC, and this is the first I’ve heard of “LLS”.

  14. I thought hella meant 10^27.

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