What can Google Trends data tell us about dialect labels: an exploratory study

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The aim of this article is twofold: first of all it sets out to explore the usefulness of Google Trends to the study of language and the perception of variants and, secondly, it investigates the social realities of dialect labels as reflected in searches on the Internet search engine Google . Google Trends is an online tool which is freely available and allows you to map the search volume of search terms across time and space and also see which other related searches Google users performed within the specified time period or area. In this way, Google Trends can perhaps help us shed light on what it is Google users are curious about or interested in when they search for words such as Geordie, Scouse and Cockney – is it the dialects which the labels denote or is it something else? The study thus takes as its primary interest the application of the Google Trends search tool to the study of folk perceptions of dialect labels and, as a secondary aim, if this can be used to uncover what these dialect labels denote to lay people. With regard to the first aim, the study found that using Google Trends data can be useful in the early stages of perceptual dialectology studies of dialects and dialect labels . With regards to the second aim, the main finding of the study was that there are vast differences between the three dialect labels investigated here, both in terms of sheer search volume over time but also with regards to the collocates with which they are associated. Explanations for some of the patterns of search volume over time and the differences between the three dialect labels are sought by considering the impact of popular culture and TV shows.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftGlobe: A Journal of Language, Culture and Communication
Vol/bind5
Sider (fra-til)48-76
ISSN2246-8838
DOI
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2017

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