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Study: Language Used On Twitter Reveals How Different Slang Spreads Across The Country

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Julian Sonny

It has been suggested that the majority of slang in the United States originated in African American communities, and now a study of Twitter has pinpointed which communities are responsible for which slang.

The study confirms the long-held view that African-American slang, with words such as cool and dig, has a strong influence on the rest of the population.

A study of around 40 million tweets provides valuable insight into the use of new slang across the United States, explaining how terms such as “bruh” and the emoticon “-_-” can spread from region to region over time.

Jacob Eisenstein at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and his colleagues examined millions of tweets sent from locations in the U.S. between December 2009 and May 2011 to find out where these popular slang words originated, and how they migrated across the country.

The study found that certain regions, including Atlanta, Southern California and New York, are hotbeds for new slang terms, and that those cities often share and exchange slang words.

“Bruh,” for example, originated in the Southeast and eventually jumped to Southern California.

The emoticon “-_-“, which implies indifference or mild annoyance, began in New York and Florida before leaping to Arizona and Texas.

Residents of Cleveland, Ohio, were the first to use “ctfu”, an abbreviation of “cracking the fuck up”, which has since spread into Pennsylvania.

The results of the study are preliminary findings, and do not necessarily reflect the broader spectrum of the population, as Twitter has a higher rate of adoption by African Americans than other ethnic groups, and the results thus may be skewed.

Jordan Shepherd | Elite.

Julian Sonny

Julian Sonny

Editor

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