Language dynamics of immigration discourse
Title: Language dynamics of immigration discourse
SNIC Project: SNIC 2021/22-209
Project Type: SNIC Small Compute
Principal Investigator: Miriam Hurtado Bodell <>
Affiliation: Linköpings universitet
Duration: 2021-03-16 – 2022-04-01
Classification: 50401


This project is meant to be used as a resource for studying the language dynamics between the news, social media users, and politicians. Based on Steven Pinker (1994): "People invent new polite words to refer to emotionally laden or distasteful things, but the euphemism becomes tainted by association and the new one that must be found acquires its own negative connotations." We will test this hypothesis by (1) study the word co-occurrence between 3 corpora; (i) Swedish national newspapers; (ii) Swedish parliament speeches, and (iii) social media posts from the online discussion forum Flashback, to see when/where/how new ideas (combinations of words) occur in the immigration discourse, and (2) see how the diffusion of ideas is impacted by (i) the topic, and (2) the degree to which the actors consider something as low/high "status". We conduct (1) by calculating which bigrams, trigrams (etc) occur within a window of a fixed size. This allows us to see when a new combination of words occurs, and if it is picked up by other agents in the following time points. (2) requires the use of topic models to identify which topics are being discussed, and word embeddings with informative priors (Hurtado Bodell et al, 2019) to detect the degree of high/low morality/status is attached to the words in the combinations found in (1). Understanding the diffusion of new language helps us understand the role of opinion homophily in language use and the politicizing power of languages.