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What can hashtags tell us about minority languages on Twitter? A comparison of #cymraeg, #frysk and #gaeilge

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Abstract

Researchers of minority language media are increasingly interested in the role of internet-based communication in language usage, maintenance, and revitalisation. This study explores the use of hashtags signifying the Welsh/Cymraeg, Frisian/Frysk, and Irish/Gaeilge languages on Twitter. Acknowledging the challenges of interpreting social media data, we focus on the hashtag and what it can tell us about the social and digital lives of minority languages. Specifically, we examine the agents using those hashtags, the topics they discuss, the languages used and the extent to which ambient communities may be formed through their use. Our analysis reveals different types of agents who are active and who have a variety of purposes in applying the minority language hashtag - sometimes to promote content in the minority language, more often to draw attention to content about those languages. Comparative analysis between the three language hashtags reveals statistically significant differences along a number of different dimensions, indicating that each minority language hashtag community has its own unique character. Through this comparative, platform-specific contribution we reach some generalisations concerning minority languages in the digital age, while also paying attention to the particularities of each language context and the exploitable features of social media for those languages.

    Research areas

  • AFFILIATION, Frisian, Irish, Minority languages, Twitter, Welsh, hashtags
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-49
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Volume40
Issue number1
Early online date23 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019