About this Research Topic
Over the past decade, a new approach to the study of language variation and change has emerged at the intersection of linguistics and computer science, opening up new ground for research on one of the most complex topics in science. In linguistics, research conducted in sociolinguistics, dialectology, and corpus linguistics has increasingly been using advanced quantitative methods to analyze larger and more complex datasets, often harvested from online sources, so as to understand patterns in language use across regions, social groups, and communicative situations. Concurrently, in computer science, research conducted in computational linguistics has increasingly been concerned with integrating social information into natural language processing systems, often leading to new insights about language variation in the process.
These two lines of research have recently begun to converge, giving rise to a new field called computational sociolinguistics, which aims to use computational techniques to understand language variation and change. This shift has allowed for new research questions and applications to be pursued and has revealed that language variation and change is far more complex than had previously been assumed. Research, however, is still progressing relatively independently in linguistics and computer science, with contributions also being made from scholars working in the computational social sciences, computer mediated communication, data science, digital humanities, geography, and machine learning. The disjointed nature of the field has undoubtedly limited its development, with researchers from different backgrounds often failing to draw on each other’s expertise.
This Research Topic aims to unite research in these areas by providing the first interdisciplinary, high-profile, and open-source platform for the publication of cutting-edge research in computational sociolinguistics. We welcome submissions of papers of descriptive, methodological, theoretical, and applied significance from scholars working in any field where computational approaches are used to understand language variation and change, including but not limited to papers that focus on the following research topics:
1. Quantitative, large-scale corpus-based research on social and regional linguistic variation
2. Computational analyses of the construction of socal meaning, including in forms of computer mediated communication
3. Applications of social network analysis to understand language variation and change
4. Crowd-sourced studies of social and regional linguistic variation (e.g. online surveys)
5. Quantitative analyses of experimental sociolinguistic datasets, including research in computational sociophonetics
6. Natural language processing applications with regional or social dimensions
7. Computational modelling studies (e.g. agent-based simulations) of language variation and change
We are primarily interested in research papers, but we will also consider position papers for publication. All submissions will be subjected to collaborative, interdisciplinary, and open peer-review, with acceptance being based entirely on methodological rigour.
In addition to popularizing and providing an outlet for high-quality computational sociolinguistics research, our goal is to help establish an interdisciplinary research community, leading to increased communication across fields, while encouraging the use of the type of large-scale, data-driven methods that are common in computational linguistics in sociolinguistics, and the awareness of how sociolinguistic theories and findings can inform and challenge the methods and assumptions of computational linguistics.
Keywords: Computational Linguistics, Corpus Linguistics, Dialectology, Sociolinguistics, Natural Language Processing
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.