Word Adoption in Online Communities

Jeremy Cole, Moojan Ghafurian, David Reitter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this paper, we examine the origination and dispersion of neologisms from the perspective of both communities and cognitive modeling. We use the Reddit corpus to identify words that were first used by Reddit communities from 2013 to 2014. We induce a hierarchy on Reddit based on the specificity of the topic. Generally, less specific communities have more users, while more specific communities likely feature closer social ties. We ask whether larger numbers of people or closer social ties are better environments to faster the adoption of new words. We found that the majority of new words are first adopted/created in more general communities; though this account is relativized by the size of the communities. We also examined the pace of dispersion of such words in new communities and discuss how this relates to models of memory by using an ACT-R cognitive model. We discuss some parameterizations of such a model of memory and its implications in the word adoption paradigm. Finally, we show that there is an increasing trend in the number of new words being adopted/created in Reddit communities, even during a relatively short time period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8625685
Pages (from-to)178-188
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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