Connectivity The Anatomy of the Urban Dictionary The first large-scale study of the Urban Dictionary provides unique insights into the way our language is evolving. It began life in as a parody of Dictionary. Indeed, judges in the U. It even allows opinions, which can sometimes be offensive. It captures new words quickly and registers many of the variations that emerge over time. Today, many millions of users rely on the site to keep them up to date with slang, common usage, and popular culture.
Upvotes slightly outnumber downvotes on the Urban Dictionary. Of course, Urban Dictionary has its shortcomings. In the absence of style guides, editors, and moderators, the content can be vague and inaccurate. Also, little is known about the people who post new words and whether the entries reflect real changes in the language or just those that affect a small subset of people.
So just how good is the Urban Dictionary at capturing new words, and how does it compare with more conventional approaches to producing online dictionaries? Today, we get an answer of sorts thanks to the work of Dong Nguyen at the Alan Turing Institute in London and a few pals, who compare the Urban Dictionary and its content with Wiktionary, another crowdsourced dictionary.
Wiktionary is an interesting comparison because it takes a much more formal approach to crowdsourcing. This is a sister site to Wikipedia, run by the same Wikimedia organization. It records only word definitions and employs guidelines about how these should be compiled. It also guides users as to what constitutes a definition.
Moderators edit the content, control vandalism, and aim to generate high-quality results. Nguyen and co begin by analyzing the Urban Dictionary content in the broadest terms.
They say it records 2,, definitions for 1,, words and phrases. Most words have just one definition, but a few have upwards of 1, The word with the highest number of definitions is emo, with 1, And the top definition is this: A terribly misconstrued and misused word. In contemporary culture it is utilized as a broad term to describe a multitude of children and teenagers who straighten their hair, have their hair in their face, perhaps dye it black, and wear tight clothing.
Unfortunately this is completely inaccurate. Sadly, since the formulation and ongoing existence of Hot Topic, the term emo has been incorrectly characterized for a little more than a decade. You have to wonder how the original bands feel about the slandering and mass misunderstanding and misuse of their originality with those of the unoriginal. By contrast, Wiktionary lists five definitions for emo: A particular style of hardcore punk rock 2.
An individual or group of people associated with that subculture and musical style. Any form of guitar-driven alternative rock that is particularly or notably emotional 4. An individual or group of people associated with a fashion or stereotype of that style of rock. A young person who is considered to be over-emotional or stereotypically emo.
The word with the next highest number of definitions on Urban Dictionary is love, with The other words in the top 10 by number of definitions are: