Monday, July 20, 2015

Yikes: St. Louis Twitter's Most-Used Curse Word is "Faggot"

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge Missouri doesn't like the word "fuck." As for the other F-word... - TWITTER
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  • Missouri doesn't like the word "fuck." As for the other F-word...

Data is a funny thing. Sometimes, you crunch the numbers and discover St. Louis is among the most charitable, creative and happy cities in America. Other times, a linguistic analysis of Twitter data reveals the St. Louis region uses a homophobic slur -- faggot -- more often than other curse words.

This distressing news comes courtesy of Jack Grieve, a professor in forensic linguistics at Aston University in England.. On Thursday, Grieve began tweeting out maps showing the relative frequency of curse words used across America. According to Gawker, the data was mined from almost a billion tweets (containing nearly 9 billion words) from October of 2013 to November of 2014.

See also: Ex-Cop Sentenced to Probation for Harassing LGBT Couple At Home, On Craigslist

Broken down at the county level, each swear map is colored from dark blue (low use) to dark orange (high use). Here's how Grieve explained the methodology to Gawker:

For any word (e.g. fuck) we measure its relative frequency in each county by dividing the total number of occurrences of that word in that county by the total number of words in that county.

We take that raw map and smooth it using a hot spot analysis (a Getis-Ord Gi local spatial autocorrelation analysis).

We map the Getis-Ord z-scores to identify clusters. Specifically, a high z-score means that that county is in the midst of a region where that word is relatively common, a negative z-score means that that county is in the midst of counties where that word is less common.

The maps show Missouri's Twitter users mostly sticking to PG-rated cussing. Large swaths of the state avoid "fuck," "shit," "bitch" and "damn," and there's even some support for the grade school expletives "gosh" and "darn."

Certain counties show a modest affinity for "motherfucker," "bitch," "asshole" and "cunt."

But it's "faggot," for some reason, that seems to be the most popular around St. Louis.

So, what's the deal here, St. Louis Twitter? Were a bunch of you angry that the city stood up to the state's gay marriage ban? Was it Michael Sam's stunning ESPYs speech? Was PrideFest too gay?

In any case, here are a few more maps Grieve tweeted out yesterday. You can find the rest (and a neat interactive map) in the Gawker post.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

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