Donating WhatsApp messages to science: a rewarding mid-term review

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Launched on June 1st by the Universities of Neuchâtel, Zurich and Bern, the WhatsApp message collection campaign is in full swing. After two weeks, more than 140,000 messages had already been sent to the research teams, including nearly 50,000 from French-speaking Switzerland. The campaign will continue until July 13, with the aim of further diversifying the donor base.

The project "What’s up, Switzerland? "project looks at the influences of WhatsApp communication on language and interaction in Switzerland: is it a simple alternative to SMS communication or are there fundamental linguistic differences? Do WhatsApp messages show the same linguistic peculiarities as SMS, for example a certain type of omission of subjects or articles, and what are the graphic and multilingual choices adopted by users?


WhatsApp in the family and in the classroom

After two weeks of collection, it turned out that the app is often used for family exchanges. The research teams also received a considerable number of school class conversations, where teachers and students share not only the yearly schedule but also gossip and gossip.
In contrast to text messages, WhatsApp conversations include many discussions of political topics, such as votes. The most popular topic is the soccer World Cup: there are even analyses of entire games on WhatsApp.

In French, spelling is respected, in German, dialect is preferred

On the linguistic level, it is notable that French speakers very often respect the standard spelling (thanks to an automatic input mode?). On the other hand, 89% of the messages in German are written in dialect and often adopt a telegraphic style. Further facts and figures about the "What’s up, Switzerland?" project can be found on the following pages.

Harvest continues until July 13

The "What’s up, Switzerland?" campaign will continue until July 13, 2014 at www.whatsup-switzerland.ch. Participants can win SBB vouchers and smartbox gift sets worth a total of CHF 4,000. So far 32 people have already won a prize.


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