The Myth of the Digital Native: Analysing language use of different generations on Facebook
Digital Natives, i.e. people who grew up in a digital world, are said to be different to their counterparts, digital immigrants, regarding their communication habits and use of digital services. In this paper, we investigate the linguistic behavior of digital natives compared to digital immigrants in a sociolinguistically annotated corpus of personal Facebook texts using methods from corpus linguistics, computational sociolinguistics and data mining. The texts are data donations from the profiles of 133 users of various ages from the northern Italian province of South Tyrol. In order to investigate if and how digital natives differ from older generations with respect to language choice, variety choice and the use of style markers, we use three analysis methods: (1) we disclose and compare central tendencies of the two groups in a quantitative analysis, (2) we train text classifiers to distinguish both groups automatically and compare prediction results, and (3) we investigate a ranking of features. The two groups differ in particular in their use of language varieties. However, taking into account the user’s first language, their choice of language and use of CMC-specific style markers also differ significantly.