Exploring Social Meaning in Online Bilingual Text through Social Network Analysis

Report No. ARL-TR-7465
Authors: Elizabeth K Bowman; Nkonko Kamwangamalu; Heather Roy; Alla Tovares; Sue Kase; Michelle Vanni; Mugizi R Rwebangira; Mohamed Chouikha
Date/Pages: September 2015; 72 pages
Abstract: This report documents the intersection of computational social network analysis and sociolinguistic research aimed at discovering how social intent is communicated through online bilingual speech acts in African cultures. Researchers from the US Army Research Lab (ARL) and Howard University (HU) exchanged information, data, and analyses to examine the feasibility of using automated text analytics software to provide contextual understanding within a text corpus. This effort extends the Army Research Office Partners in Research Transition program titled "Extracting Social Meaning from Linguistic Structures Involving Code-Swtiching in English (and French) with Selected African Languages" led by HU. It also provided test and evaluation opportunities for ARL prototype software designed to extract relational networks and sentiment from unstructured Tweets. This collaboration was driven by the realization that more social input is needed to refine context for sociolinguistic analysis and also by the increasing importance of modeling social issues for military decision making. To address social communication acts, we focus on using Twitter for sharing individual and collective opinions. Social media services in general have gained popularity in recent years and are frequently used for discovery and analysis of social intent. We examine the sociolinguistic features that can be used to discover social intent, discuss how social network analysis can be used to inform contextual nuances in which that intent is communicated, and describe how automated tools can be used to support sociolinguistic analysis. We conclude with future research directions that can extend the rich connections between computational social network analysis and the study of sociolinguistics.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2015