Because Science: Language Change and Iconicity in Internet Speak

Summer 2014

Anneliise Rehn : Linguistics, Education (minor)

Mentor: Line Mikkelsen, Linguistics

The pace and nature of language change has significant impact on everything from grammar textbooks to natural language processing. With the internet providing new and inventive avenues for this change, we have an opportunity and a necessity to study these avenues. My SURF project researches a new grammatical construction which has emerged on the internet wherein “because” can be followed by a single word, usually a noun, but in some cases an adjective or interjection. I will create a database with quantitative and qualitative data, a sub-corpus extracted from the internet, to catalog how and why this “Because {NOUN, etc.}” construction has caught on. My goal is to find 500 instances of the new construction, annotate them linguistically, and organize them into categories based on meaning.

The opportunity of being a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow already helped me by strengthening my confidence in my capabilities, thus enabling me to pursue my passions and plan for graduate school in linguistics. Throughout the summer, I anticipate the SURF program encouraging me to utilize and strengthen self-motivation, research, and collaboration skills. Financially, the funding provided by the JSB Fund helps toward paying tuition for the next academic year allowing me to focus on my research over the summer and in the next year allowing me to work fewer hours per week, giving me more time to devote to my studies and writing my thesis.