Common belief dictates that Canadians are more polite and positive than their neighbours to the South. “It’s just the feeling I get,” our European or Asian or African or Australian or South American or Caribbean friends will tell us.
But can you quantify that feeling?
A pair of linguists from McMaster University attempted to do exactly that by analyzing millions of geotagged tweets and generating a word cloud of the most prevalent words tweeted by country.
“Great”, “amazing”, “beautiful” and “favourite” were some of the most popular words used by Canadians, while many of Americans’ most used terms were rather NSFW and even included a racial slur. “Habs, “Leafs,” “Raptors,” “Jays,” “hockey,” and “eh” were especially Canadian among top words.
Even words that are safe to print among American favourites weren’t very rainbows and sunshine – “hate”, “hell”, “tired”, “hurt” and “annoying.”
“We could see the difference between the two countries’ tweets as soon as we created a word cloud of the findings,” says PhD candidate Daniel Schmidtke, who conducted the research in McMaster’s Sherman Centre.
Schmidtke and his research partner, Bryor Snefjellaamong, is among the first researchers to use the social network to study geo-linguistic differences between neighbouring countries where English is the primary language spoken.