Excuse me, do you Tweet Spanish?

By Agnes Rivera

The social network giant, Twitter, is used in a linguistics study to compare Spanish dialects.

Excuse me, do you Tweet Spanish?

As the world becomes more interconnected and accessible with technology, many of us have picked up a second language, or two. It has become expected that future generations receive a second language course from a young age so as to be prepared to enter the work force that has become so internationally intertwined.

Along with technology and merging of cultures, we have evolved into a multi-tongued species that uses various forms to communicate, and sometimes in a very public manner (Facebook, or any social media for that matter). A slight barrier built by dialect remains in modern society, however, as a recent study of linguistics revealed.

A speaker´s form of speech, or dialect, can be very telling of which specific group of people or what region this individual belongs to. Is it possible to gather such information from written text?

Researchers Bruno Gonçalves, from the University of Toluon in France, and David Sánchez, from the Interdisciplinary Physics and Complex Systems Institute in Spain, decided to investigate the Spanish dialect worldwide. By gathering more than 50 million tweets over a period of two years, the researchers analyzed the Spanish language and how it varied depending on location. The messages considered in the study had been written from Spain, Latin America and the U.S., as well as from some areas in Eastern Europe.

According to New America Media, Goncalves and Sánchez “took a word and then searched and localized the tweets where the word was reference on a map, using one word and one different dialect”. For example, the preference of “flat¨ as opposed to “apartment”, or “auto” rather than “automobile”.

The results of the study showed that there are two so-called “super-dialects” of Spanish. The first is considered “more international and used in large cities in Spain and America, and another used more in rural areas”. The study exposes not only dialect differences within one shared language, but the homogenization of language as global communication has become more common.

A map illustrating what words are most common according to a geographic area is available on the New America Media webpage.

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