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Volume 23 / Issue 11

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-023-11-1038


Utilizing Multilingual Language Data in (Nearly) Real Time: The Case of the Nordic Tweet Stream

Mikko Laitinen (University of Eastern Finland and Department of Languages Linnaeus University, Sweden)

Jonas Lundberg (Linnaeus University, Sweden)

Magnus Levin (Linnaeus University, Sweden)

Alexander Lakaw (Linnaeus University, Sweden)

Abstract: This paper presents the Nordic Tweet Stream, a cross-disciplinary digital humanities project that downloads Twitter messages from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The paper first introduces some of the technical aspects in creating a real-time monitor corpus that grows every day, and then two case studies illustrate how the corpus could be used as empirical evidence in studies focusing on the global spread of English. Our approach in the case studies is sociolinguistic, and we are interested in how widespread multilingualism which involves English is in the region, and what happens to ongoing grammatical change in digital environments. The results are based on 6.6 million tweets collected during the first four months of data streaming. They show that English was the most frequently used language, accounting for almost a third. This indicates that Nordic Twitter users choose English as a means of reaching wider audiences. The preference for English is the strongest in Denmark and the weakest in Finland. Tweeting mostly occurs late in the evening, and high-profile media events such as the Eurovision Song Contest produce considerable peaks in Twitter activity. The prevalent use of informal features such as univerbated verb forms (e.g., gotta for (HAVE) got to) supports previous findings of the speech-like nature of written Twitter data, but the results indicate that tweeters are pushing the limits even further.

Keywords: Twitter, corpus linguistics, language choice, oral discourse style

Categories: E.0, H.3, J.5