Wassup with the language of Twitter : an exploratory analysis of structural features

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Title: Wassup with the language of Twitter : an exploratory analysis of structural features
Author: Logacheva, Evanfiya
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern Languages 2010-2017
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201912194229
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: englantilainen filologia
English Philology
Engelsk filologi
Abstract: Twitter has become a staple social media platform for millions of English speakers of different socioeconomic categories, which makes it a valuable source of research material for linguistic analysis. There has not been many quantitative studies of structural language features in digital communication that use a representative sample of online users, which is why this investigation attempts to contribute to the body of research with an exploratory analysis of a Twitter corpus. Researchers have previously identified numerous linguistic phenomena, for example, creative abbreviations, non-standard capitalization, punctuation and spelling, which appear with varying frequencies in different types of computer-mediated communication. Although such features are not limited to digital platforms, they often function as expressivity devices and contribute to the speechlike quality of written language in text-based electronic media. This study presents a quantitative analysis of common typographic and orthographic characteristics of the language of Twitter with the goal to identify the reasons for their popularity. Since this work also seeks to evaluate Twitter from the point of view of spoken and written discourses, the investigation additionally focuses on the lexical density of tweets and the distributions of parts-of-speech and personal pronouns. The findings are compared to previous research results that were obtained from studying instant and text messaging, emails and discussion forums. The analysis of the language of Twitter suggests that the use of characteristic formal features is frequently dictated by the need to express emotions and emulate nonverbal cues in the communication environment lacking sound. Additionally, certain cases of nonstandard typography and orthography are caused by the character limitation of the platform and users trying to minimize the number of keystrokes. The distributions of major word classes and personal pronouns show that Twitter, unlike instant and text messaging, serves other purposes besides personal communication, for example, news reporting, social networking, political campaigning and advertising, in this sense, it is similar to emails and electronic forums.
Subject: computer-mediated communication
internet slang
exploratory language analysis
language expressivity
social media
lexical density
corpus linguistics

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