Evaluating the evolution of the English language as seen in TikTok slang

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Authors
Mackey, Abigail Elizabeth
Issue Date
2023-05
Type
Thesis
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en_US
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Abstract

This study will evaluate the perception of slang terminology seen on the massively popular social media site TikTok and whether said terms are appropriate in certain contexts. This is alongside some terms that have existed for years, and that show signs of entering the English lexicon as formal, or ‘standard’ English, despite their former standing as immature slang. First, 100 TikTok videos were viewed using a new account created for study purposes, as well as another 100 videos on an existing account. A selection of slang terminology seen on these TikToks was then provided to 26 participants and they were asked to rate the terms using two Likert scales. In the first task, participants were asked to determine whether terms were understood as a slang term, a standard/usual term, or both, as well as whether they were appropriate to use in certain contexts. In the second task, participants then evaluated a selection of sentences and determined whether the sentences are grammatical or not. Every term presented to the participants were noted as being understood, and semantic analysis revealed that sentences intended to be grammatical or ungrammatical were noted as such. Further analysis revealed that older terms like [wanna] and [gonna] could be going through significant morphological change, while less popular terms might be used infrequently due to instances of usage considered appropriate being hyper-specific. This implies slow but tangible shift in English grammar.

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Thesis (M.A.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of English
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Wichita State University
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© Copyright 2023 by Abigail Elizabeth Mackey All Rights Reserved
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