A Study Of Cusswords On Twitter

Posted in GSU photo archive, The English Language, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on July 17, 2015









There was a link on facebook to a Gawker situation, Do You Live in a “Bitch” or a “Fuck” State? American Curses, Mapped. The article has a series of maps, with unappealing red and blue splotches embedded. Each map is dedicated to a cussword: asshole, bitch, cunt, damn, darn, faggot, fuck, gosh, motherfucker, and shit. Red splotches means a word in a particular region, while blue splotches mean the phrase is less popular. Only three of the Carlin seven words are studied.

We only know that the words are being used on twitter. The technology is not advanced enough to determine if the words are used as a compliment, or an insult. Are these wirty dords employed as nouns, verbs, or modifiers? Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient only goes so far.

“Jack Grieve, a professor in Forensic Linguistics at Aston University in England, has been tweeting out maps of the U.S. with geotagged data from Twitter that show where in the country we are using which swearwords. Almost a billion tweets, from October of 2013 to November of 2014, were collected by Diansheng Guo at University of South Carolina, totaling nearly 9 billion words.” In other words, this is based on tweets. Peeps who communicate in 140 character segments are a tiny subset of the overall population. The utility of this group as a representative sample is questionable.

The results are amusing. Cunt is popular in New England, and not so popular in the south. This designation for vagina apparently has a latin root… cunnus also gave us cunnilingus. There was a tasteful comment exchange The 3 Legged Horse Quite disappointed with the lack of cunt usage in my area. tortfeasor “Tell me about it.” —Random desperate guy

There is a 333 mile wide zone around the southeast states, from Virginia to Texas. In this region, shit, bitch, and fuck are popular. Fuck and faggot enjoy great popularity with California tweets. New England and Utah are full of 140 character assholes.

On his twitter page, ‏@JWGrieve, round 2 has started. The words analyzed here are bastard, crap, douche, fuckboy, hell, pussy, slut, whore. The shit/fuck/bitch belt shows a propensity for pussy and hell. Slut is popular in Seattle, and the Texas rudder.

Jack Grieve has a website, where the cusswords are undigitized. He discusses other projects. “Here’s a map of the alternation between LOL and haha on Twitter, ignoring all of the other ways of signalling laughter, including variations on these two forms. This map clearly shows that regions with high LOL percentages also tend to have large African American populations. … So it appears that white speakers are taking the lead here and that African American speakers are resisting the incoming form haha.”

Mapping Lexical Spread in American English is another study. It studies the top rising words on twitter, for 2014. The winner is fuckboy, which is not a compliment. This noun is popular in New Jersey, Central California, and parts of West Texas.

“Identify emerging words from 2014 based on an analysis of a multi-billion word geocoded corpus of American tweets. The team at USC are in the process of compiling a multi-billion word corpus using the Twitter API, consisting of almost all geocoded Tweet from the US and the UK since 2013. These tweets come from the approximately 2% of users who are tweeting from a geo-tracking mobile device. The analysis presented here is based on a 8.9 billion word corpus of American Tweets from October 2013 to November 2014.The corpus contains approximately 980 million Tweets from 7 million users from within the contiguous United States. We first extracted the 67,000 words that occur at least 1,000 times in the corpus and identified rising words by correlating word relative frequency per day to day of the year using a Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient”

Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.










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