On Twitter, Canadians more polite than Americans: study

By AFP 22 November 2018

It's a tired cliche but on Twitter, it rings true: Canadians are more polite than Americans, saying words like "great" and "thank you" more often, a scientific study said Wednesday.

The report in the journal PLOS ONE, led by three researchers at McMaster University, analyzed 37 million tweets from 2015-16.

Canadians were more likely to use words like “great, thanks, good, amazing, happy,” said the findings.

Americans, on the other hand, tended to commonly write words like “hate, love, miss, mad, feel, swear, tired.”

Americans were also far more likely to use emojis than Canadians, like the laughing-while-crying one and the hearts-for-eyes face, and to resort to internet acronyms like lol and idk.

Other word preferences showed a “clear prevalence of negative outputs in American tweets over Canadians,” said the report.

“American lexical choices show a clear relative preference for taboo words, including swear words, expletives, and racial slurs.”

The findings came as a surprise to researchers, who noted that other sociological research over the years has shown that Canadians really are not nicer than Americans, despite the commonly cited stereotype.

“The Twitter behavior we observe doesn’t actually reflect the real underlying personality profile of an average American or Canadian,” said Daniel Schmidtke, co-author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher at McMaster.

What may be happening, linguists argue, is what they call an “identity construction strategy.”

In other words, Canadians and Americans may create and even reinforce their national character stereotypes with the words they type on Twitter.

It’s a hypothesis that remains to be proven.

ico/ksh DM


Are You A South AfriCAN or a South AfriCAN'T?

Maverick Insider is more than a reader revenue scheme. While not quite a "state of mind", it is a mindset: it's about believing that independent journalism makes a genuine difference to our country and it's about having the will to support that endeavour.

From the #GuptaLeaks into State Capture to the Scorpio exposés into SARS, Daily Maverick investigations have made an enormous impact on South Africa and it's political landscape. As we enter an election year, our mission to Defend Truth has never been more important. A free press is one of the essential lines of defence against election fraud; without it, national polls can turn very nasty, very quickly as we have seen recently in the Congo.

If you would like a practical, tangible way to make a difference in South Africa consider signing up to become a Maverick Insider. You choose how much to contribute and how often (monthly or annually) and in exchange, you will receive a host of awesome benefits. The greatest benefit of all (besides inner peace)? Making a real difference to a country that needs your support.


Please or create an account to view the comments. To join the conversation, sign up as a Maverick Insider.


No free pass for Eskom’s Mr Fix-It, Jabu Mabuza

By Jessica Bezuidenhout

"Five exclamation marks - the sure sign of an insane mind." ~ Terry Pratchett