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Sociophonetic Variation in an Internet Place Name

by Kim Witten on October 1, 2012

My first journal article is now published in the Names: a Journal of Onomastics (Maney Publishing link) special issue on Names, Naming and the Internet.


This study provides one of the first published accounts of sociophonetic variation in which the speech community under investigation exists online and text-based communication is the dominant mode of interaction. The abbreviated name of the Internet community weblog — MeFi, from — has at least eight recognized pronunciation variants. Quantitative analysis of surveys from over 2000 MetaFilter members reveals statistically significant variation in the distribution of members’ preferred pronunciations for MeFi across four English-speaking countries. These results reflect dialectal and socio-cultural differences in naming preferences in spite of the fact that the speech channel is limited or non-primary.

Here is the link to the content of Volume 60, Number 4, December 2012; my article is here. The post-print of the article can be viewed by clicking here (automatic PDF download). Please note that the post-print is the version that has been accepted by the journal, prior to Maney’s copyediting, typesetting and proofing process; there will be differences between this PDF and the final published version. If you have Institutional access to Names, please view that version.

I hope you enjoy reading this. Please don’t hesitate to send me some feedback. Thanks!

Preferred citation: Witten, K., 2012. Sociophonetic Variation in an Internet Place Name. Names: A Journal of Onomastics, 60(4), pp.220–230.
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