Study Finds Twitter Exposes Geographical Dialects
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University examined 380,000 messages from Twitter during one week in March 2010 and found that the social networking site is full of geographical dialects.
Southern Californians tend to write the shorthand "coo," while those from northern California use the phonetic shorthand "koo."
The 4.5 million words the team examined were full of similar examples.Â The word "suttin" was commonly used in New York City, which is shorthand for "something."
Jacob Eisenstein, a post-doctoral fellow of computer science in Carnegie Mellon’s Machine Learning Department, and his colleagues analyzed the geotaxis attached to Twitter messages sent from mobile phones for the study.Â They looked at 4.5 million words in all.
"Some of what we found really just confirms previous intuitions, but some things were much more specific for social media," Eisenstein said in a statement, noting the phrase "very tired."
Northern Californians tend to substitute "hella" for very and New Yorkers use "deadass" for tired.Â
Some of the differences across Twitter can be explained by the need to write concisely to fit the site’s 140-character limit.
Scott Kiesling, associated professor of linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh, told The Associated Press that social media provides researchers a lot of easily obtainable data in which they can explore and examine how people are speaking.Â
He said the next step is examining whether these phrases spread like "pancake batter hitting a pan or hop from city to city."
He said there is a burgeoning interest among linguists to study online speech more closely, and also said that a conference this year at Georgetown University will be examining language and new media.
Eisenstein said some of the online "accents" mirror those in spoken language as well.Â For example, he said that many people in the Great Lakes region tend to have similar accents when speaking, but that was not necessarily found to be true in the study.
"One thing I think that it shows is that people really have a need to communicate their identity “” their cultural identity and their geographic identity in social media," he said.
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