Michigan's favorite swear words

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click to enlarge Michigan's favorite swear words
Jack Grieve

Longtime Metro Times readers know we love our swear words. That's why some recent maps by the U.K. linguist Jack Grieve are of particular interest to us.

Grieve, a professor in Forensic Linguistics at Aston University in England, tweeted out maps of the U.S. showing which swear words are most popular in each state. To make the maps, Diansheng Guo at University of South Carolina collected almost a billion tweets from Oct. 2013 to Nov. 2014, totalling nearly 9 billion words. They then analyzed the tweets using geotagged data.

Grieve explains: 

For any word (e.g. fuck) we measure its relative frequency in each county by diving the total number of occurrences of that word in that county by the total number of words in that county.

We take that raw map and smooth it using a hot spot analysis (a Getis-Ord Gi local spatial autocorrelation analysis).

We map the Getis-Ord z-scores to identify clusters. Specifically, a high z-score means that that county is in the midst of a region where that word is relatively common, a negative z-score means that that county is in the midst of counties where that word is less common.

The conclusions deduced from Grieve et. al? Metro Detroiters say "Cunt," "Fuck," "Bitch," "Faggot," and "Asshole" a lot.

Check out the maps below.

About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
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