Facebook wants to be the dictionary for the language of the internet


Often times, it seems like conversing with people on the internet requires knowledge of a completely different form of English from what we use in regular conversations, almost like a different language, and each internet sub-culture has its own dialect of this language that looks like gibberish to outsiders. There’s no way a single person can understand all of this, especially since the language of the internet is constantly evolving, which is why Facebook has patented some new software that’s designed to identify all of these new terms and phrases, and then store them in a “social glossary.”

When it comes to language, Facebook wants to get ahead of the curve. The company recently patented software that scours its social network for new terms and phrases, then stores them in an evolving “social glossary.” The company’s patent, which was granted on Tuesday, is particularly hunting for neologisms — new pieces of language that are being used, but haven’t yet entered the common vernacular. Neologisms include words such as “staycation,” while rapidly evolving technology is responsible for terms such as “blogosphere,” or “netroots” — which Merriam Webster defines as “the grassroots political activists who communicate via the Internet especially by blogs.” In its application, the company says it is looking for “slang, terms of art, portmanteaus, syllabic abbreviations, abbreviations, acronyms, names, nicknames, re-purposed words or phrases, or any other type of coined word or phrase.” But it isn’t interested in phrases that are defined in “widely-available dictionaries.” The software works by first spotting terms, checking to see that they are not already being widely used, then adding it to the social glossary. It will also review the terms to see if they’re still being used, including by soliciting feedback from users. If a word is determined to have fallen out of favor, it’s removed from the glossary, the application says.

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