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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oxford University Press Conducts Academic Survey of Twitter-Speak

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2009 at 7:05 AM

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It was only a matter of time before the academic world got its grimy paws on Twitter. (The academic world would also repudiate that last sentence because worlds don't have hands.)

The good folks of Oxford University Press, under the guise of "work", have spent the past six months monitoring 1.5 million tweets. That is a lot of useless information about complete strangers. But since they are the folks who write the dictionary, there was a serious inquiry behind their Twitter-reading:

How badly do twits mangle the English language?

Read on to find out!

Although the most commonly-tweeted word is "the," just as it is in regular writing, the second most common twit-word is "I", which in the non-twit world, ranks down at number 10.

"No doubt this reflects on the intrinsically solipsistic nature of Twitter," the Oxford bloggers conclude. (Good use of those multisyllabic words, by the way!)

The researchers have discovered that tweets are more likely to have gerunds, and those gerunds tend to be words that describe experiences, like  "watching", "trying", "listening", "reading" and "eating".

Tweets are also more casual than formal written speech, with greater use of "ok" and "fuck" (which OUP decorously records as "f***").

The OUP's tweet study by the numbers:
Total tweets = 1,496,981
Total sentences = 2,098,630
Total words = 22,431,033
Average words per tweet = 14.98
Average sentences per tweet = 1.40
Average words per sentence in Twitter= 10.69
Average words per sentence in general usage = 22.09

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