Monday, August 10, 2015

By gosh, local-level maps show the most popular swear words in tweets in the 48 contiguous states

When people in the South swear on Twitter, their preferred word of choice is usually "damn." In other parts of the country, Twitter users are more likely to use words we won't print here. It's easy to identify the favorite swear words of people in your area, thanks to Jack Grieve, lecturer in forensic linguistics at Aston University in Birmingham, England, who created a series of maps "based on an 8.9-billion-word corpus of geo-coded tweets collected by Diansheng Guo in 2013–14," Stan Carey reports for Strong Language.

"The frequency of a word in the tweets from a given county is divided by the total number of words from that county (which correlates strongly with population density)," Carey writes. "The result is then smoothed using spatial autocorrection analysis, with Getis-Ord z-scores mapped to identify clusters." That shows that "damn" isn't widely used among Twitter users in one part of the South, Appalachia. Neither are other swear words in the study. To view the maps, click here. Be warned: the maps contain explicit language.

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