this is our linguistics project…lol

Max Orroth, Arielle Gordon, Jillian Litke

We’ve all heard of the acronym lol, short for “laugh out loud”, and have used it in more than one context. Lol differs from other internet-born acronyms, like ROTFL, as it has become widespread across social platforms all over the world and has maintained a role in American English vernacular to this day. Some use it to “soften the blow” of a harsh statement. For others, it is tacked onto the end of a sentence to convey sarcasm or passive-aggressiveness, but does that mean its meaning has changed over time? Our study analyzed a series of tweets from Twitter to determine if the use of lol has increased in passive-aggressive contexts from 2008-2022. We also categorized where lol appeared in the tweet, such as the beginning of it, the middle, or the end to help determine the true meaning or intent of the tweet.

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