Visualizing Regional Language Variation Across Europe on Twitter

  • Dirk HovyEmail author
  • Afshin Rahimi
  • Timothy Baldwin
  • Julian Brooke
Reference work entry


Geotagged Twitter data allows us to investigate correlations of geographic language variation, both at an interlingual and intralingual level. Based on data-driven studies of such relationships, this paper investigates regional variation of language usage on Twitter across Europe and compares it to traditional research of regional variation. This paper presents a novel method to process large amounts of data and to capture gradual differences in language variation. Visualizing the results by deterministically translating linguistic features into color hues presents a novel view of language variation across Europe, as it is reflected on Twitter. The technique is easy to apply to large amounts of data and provides a fast visual reference that can serve as input for further qualitative studies. The general applicability is demonstrated on a number of studies both across and within national languages. This paper also discusses the unique challenges of large-scale analysis and visualization, and the complementary nature of traditional qualitative and data-driven quantitative methods, and argues for their possible synthesis.


Twitter Language variation Computational methods Computational sociolinguistics Representation learning 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Hovy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Afshin Rahimi
    • 2
  • Timothy Baldwin
    • 3
  • Julian Brooke
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of MarketingBocconi UniversityMilanItaly
  2. 2.Computer Science DepartmentThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Computing and Information SystemsThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of British ColumbiaKelownaCanada

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