Twitter Neologisms

Research Question:

We will be looking at the effect of the Oxford Dictionary’s descriptive addition of neologisms on the salience of the word. Twitter will be our medium for looking at salience. We will be using a Python script to scrape tweets from Twitter two years before the neologisms are published, one year before hand, the month they are published, and a year after publishing. This will all be in an effort to find a correlation between official recognition and actual usage. Twenty randomly selected words will be used. Our research will be limited to the English speaking world.

Why Twitter?

Twitter is an informal form of social networking that allows users to post 140 character "tweets" for all of their followers to view. These tweets, while not bearing all too much content value, are being subject to minimal code switching. Register is defined by Halliday an Hasan as "the total event, in which the text is functioning, together with the purposive activity of the speaker or writer; includes subject-matter as one of the elements"The idea is that when speaking with peers, ones register will be different than when writing papers or articles. Researching informal registers is notoriously difficult for linguists, with participants being primed to notice their speech in a study. Labov famously circumvented this problem by asking strangers on different levels of a department store to look for non-rhotic 'r's. For that same reason, we began scraping twitter for language use.


Randomized Neologism Selections:

gam head, trip, geekery, smackhead, showrunner, schlumpy, Mephistophelian, Kombucha, trans.

Possible Words from the June 2013 Publication of the Oxford Dictionary Online:

flash mob, fracking, fun day, gam, geekery, hand brake, hand roll, hand-balling, hand-block, handed-down, handel, hand-holding, handicapping, handled, handmake, hand-off, handover, handpass, hand-print, hand-printed, hand-punching, hand-signalling | hand-signaling, hand-sold, handwash, hand-wash, hand-wringer, handy-dandy, head nodding, head space, head trip, head woman, headbang, headcam, headfuck, headfuck, headfucking, headmistressy, head-nodding, headstand, headstander, head-stay, headstay, head-to-toe, headways, hearth-pace, hearthstoning, heart-in-mouth, heart-scalded, heart-scalding, heart-stopper, heart-stopping, imbongi, interoperability, jolly hockey sticks, knobhead, kombucha, live blog, live-blog, live-blogging, mani-pedi, Mephistophelian, microbiome, mochaccino, mouseover, parasomnia, phorbeia, post-racial, Randian, red velvet, Russell Group, salat, schlumpy, sega, showrunner, smackhead, smeg, syrtos, trans, transman, transperson, transphobia, transphobic, transwoman, travers, trixie, veepstakes, watch fob, youngult.


We would like to thank Shawn Kurta and David Birnbaum for all of their help and support on this project. This site would look radically different if it weren’t for their guiding hands and skilled instruction. Also worth mentioning are the wonderful Teaching Assistants: Alexandra Krongel, Andrew Nitz, and Emma Thompson. Thank you all.

Creative Commons License
Twitter Neologisms by JR, Tom McIntyre, Shawn Kurta is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.