Hahahahaha, Duuuuude, Yeeessss!: A two-parameter characterization of stretchable words and the dynamics of mistypings and misspellings

Tyler J. Gray, Christopher M. Danforth, and Peter Sheridan Dodds

[pdf] (arxiv)


Stretched words like 'heellllp' or 'heyyyyy' are a regular feature of spoken language, often used to emphasize or exaggerate the underlying meaning of the root word. While stretched words are rarely found in formal written language and dictionaries, they are prevalent within social media. In this paper, we examine the frequency distributions of 'stretchable words' found in roughly 100 billion tweets authored over an 8 year period. We introduce two central parameters, 'balance' and 'stretch', that capture their main characteristics, and explore their dynamics by creating visual tools we call 'balance plots' and 'spelling trees'. We discuss how the tools and methods we develop here could be used to study the statistical patterns of mistypings and misspellings, along with the potential applications in augmenting dictionaries, improving language processing, and in any area where sequence construction matters, such as genetics.

Online Appendices

Appendices A-C (see the paper)
Online Appendix A - List of kernels and associated statistics and regular expressions
Online Appendix B - Token count distribution for each kernel
Online Appendix C - Balance plot for each kernel
Online Appendix D - Spelling tree for each kernel with a single two letter element

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