Streams in Great Britain have many different names—brook, burn, stream, water—and it turns out that the variations are regional. On Twitter, Ben Smith has been posting maps of Britain’s obscure and idiosyncratic stream names. Atlas Obscura has more, and also points to Phil Taylor doing something similar with Britain’s lakes. Language maps, meet toponyms. [Benjamin Hennig]
The Algonquian Linguistic Atlas, a collaborative, interactive web-based map that provides phrases in various indigenous languages in Canada, has earned its project director, Carleton University linguistics professor Marie-Odile Junker, a Governor General’s Innovation Award, CBC News reported in May.
Like The United Swears of America, The Great American Word Mapper explores regional variation in English language use in the United States based on geocoded Twitter data, this time through a search interface that allows side-by-side comparisons. As before, forensic linguist Jack Grieve is involved, along with fellow linguist Andrea Nini. [Kottke]
A guide to Mi’kmaw place names in Nova Scotia, the Mi’kmaw Place Names Digital Atlas was unveiled last year. It’s “an interactive map showing more than 700 place names throughout Nova Scotia, and includes pronunciation, etymology, and other features, such as video interviews with Mi’kmaw Elders.” Flash required (really?). [CBC News]
Based on an interactive dialect quiz in the New York Times that generated more than 350,000 responses, Josh Katz’s Speaking American: How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide “offers a visual atlas of the American vernacular—who says what, and where they say it—revealing the history of our nation, our regions, and our language.” Out now from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Buy at Amazon.
Linguist Jack Grieve studies regional variations in languages using quantitative methods. A year ago he posted a number of maps of the United States showing regional variation in swear word usage, based on a corpus of nearly nine billion geocoded tweets. Stan Carey of the Strong Language blog has more on the maps:
Hell, damn and bitch are especially popular in the south and southeast. Douche is relatively common in northern states. Bastard is beloved in Maine and New Hampshire, and those states—together with a band across southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas—are the areas of particular motherfucker favour. Crap is more popular inland, fuck along the coasts. Fuckboy—a rising star—is also mainly a coastal thing, so far.
I love everything about this. See also Stan’s follow-up post from last March. (Thanks to Natalie for finding this.)
Researchers are mapping the shift in Swiss German dialect usage via an iOS app. The app asks users to take a 16-question survey based on maps from a language atlas that mapped Swiss German usage circa 1950. The app predicts the user’s actual home dialect location based on those maps; differences between that prediction and the user’s actual home dialect location reveal how Swiss German has changed over time. They ended up getting responses from 60,000 speakers. PLOS ONE article. [via]