“The dialectal divide in Spanish is essentially urban-rural, not Peninsular-American”

Bruno Gonçalves and David Sánchez’s Crowdsourcing dialect characterization through Twitter subjected 50 million geotagged tweets to lexical analysis (beginning with stuff like auto/carro/coche/concho/movi) to come to this conclusion. Neither author belongs to the academic linguistic establishment, and they challenge the traditional view, which in Spain at least has defined linguistic variation to a considerable extent on a neo-feudal, territorial basis – in X we speak Xish, because that’s what the regional government pays for in order to maximise central government grants and minimise audits. There are obviously grave problems with sampling (who uses Twitter? can tweets really be regarded as representative utterances? can such bold claims be based solely on word use?), but the mere fact that the dataset is pretty large and un-self-conscious gives it a huge edge over traditionalist surveys like Al meu poble en diem, and it’s the most interesting (albeit incredibly short) study of modern Spanish I’ve seen for a while.

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Last updated 14/08/2014

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Föcked Translation (414): I posted to a light-hearted blog called Fucked Translation over on Blogger from 2007 to 2016, when I was often in Barcelona. Its original subtitle was "What happens when Spanish institutions and businesses give translation contracts to relatives or to some guy in a bar who once went to London and only charges 0.05€/word." I never actually did much Spanish-English translation (most of my work is from Dutch, French and German) but I was intrigued and amused by the hubristic Spanish belief, then common, that nepotism and quality went hand in hand, and by the nemeses that inevitably followed.

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