How does something “go viral” on Twitter? To an outside observer, it might seem like magic – a small group starts tweeting about something, and all of a sudden it blows up across the entire Twitter-verse, and everyone is talking about that so-ugly-it’s-cute kitten.
But researchers are convinced they can discover how new trends develop – tracking the next “twerk” based on the language we use on Twitter.
According to Phys.org, researchers from Aston University in the UK will be conducting the largest linguistic study of its kind on Twitter. In partnership with the University of South Carolina, they will analyze over one billion tweets to understand how new culturally-significant words emerge. Part of the reason why Twitter was chosen as the source of this data was because the spontaneousness of tweets resembles real speech.
The study will pay particular attention to how words develop within the UK and the US, and how they cross the Atlantic between the two regions.
The main goal of this research is two-fold: one, to determine how new words become popular and how they spread; and two, to analyze how the actual movement of people influences our linguistic patterns.
Dr. Jack Grieve, lecturer in Forensic Linguistics at Aston and lead researcher says:
“I’m very excited to begin work on this project. No previous linguistic report has had so much data to work with so we have a great opportunity to map the emergence of new words and their lexical diffusion.”