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As is the case with many languages, re-
search into code-switching in Modern Irish
has, until recently, mainly been focused
on the spoken language. Online user-
generated content (UGC) is less restric-
tive than traditional written text, allowing
for code-switching, and as such, provides
a new platform for text-based research in
this field of study. This paper reports on
the annotation of (English) code-switching
in a corpus of 1496 Irish tweets and
provides a computational analysis of the
nature of code-switching amongst Irish-
speaking Twitter users, with a view to
providing a basis for future linguistic and
socio-linguistic studies.
1 Introduction
User-generated content (UGC) provides an insight
into the use of language in an informal setting in
a way that previously was not possible. That is to
say that in the pre-internet era (where most pub-
lished content was curated and edited), text that
was available for analysis was not necessarily re-
flective of everyday language use. User-generated
content, on the other hand, provides a clearer snap-
shot of a living language in natural, everyday use.
Analysis of minority language UGC in partic-
ular provides much insight into the evolution of
these languages in the digital age. In some bilin-
gual environments, the overwhelming dominance
of a majority language can sometimes restrict and
discourage the natural use of a minority language.

c 2019 The authors. This article is licensed under a Creative
Commons 4.0 licence, no derivative works, attribution, CC-
BY-ND.
Online environments, on the other hand, can offer
a kind of ‘safe space’ in which these languages can
co-exist and the minority language can thrive. Ad-
ditionally, various interesting linguistic phenom-
ena occur online that may be frowned upon in more
formal settings. The present paper aims to investi-
gate one such phenomenon among Irish-speaking
users of the micro-blogging platform Twitter.
Code-switching occurs whenever a speaker
switches between two (or more) languages in
a multilingual environment. Negative attitudes
towards code-switching have been documented
widely in this field – in particular earlier beliefs
that code-switching indicated a communicative de-
ficiency or lack of mastery of either language. In
fact, the phenomenon is now understood to be in-
dicative of bilingual proficiency (Grosjean, 2010).
Solorio and Liu (2008) note that “when the
country has more than one official language, we
can find instances of code-switching”. Given that
Irish is the first official language of the Republic
of Ireland, with English as the second,1
and given
the well-known existence of code-switching in the
spoken Irish of the Gaeltacht regions (Hickey,
2009), it is unsurprising that Lynn et al. (2015)
and Caulfield (2013, p. 208ff) report that code-
switching is a common feature in Irish UGC. Our
earlier work (Lynn et al., 2015), however, focused
only on a part-of-speech (POS) tagging analysis
of an Irish Twitter data set, without further ex-
ploration of the code-switching phenomenon that
was observed. In fact, the English (code-switched)
segments of tweets were given a general tag that
1Note that English is the more dominant language, with only
17.4% of the population reporting use of Irish outside the
education system http://www.cso.ie/en/media/
csoie/releasespublications/documents/
population/2017/7._The_Irish_language.
pdf
Proceedings of the Celtic Language Technology Workshop 2019 Dublin, 19–23 Aug


Original text

As is the case with many languages, re-
search into code-switching in Modern Irish
has, until recently, mainly been focused
on the spoken language. Online user-
generated content (UGC) is less restric-
tive than traditional written text, allowing
for code-switching, and as such, provides
a new platform for text-based research in
this field of study. This paper reports on
the annotation of (English) code-switching
in a corpus of 1496 Irish tweets and
provides a computational analysis of the
nature of code-switching amongst Irish-
speaking Twitter users, with a view to
providing a basis for future linguistic and
socio-linguistic studies.
1 Introduction
User-generated content (UGC) provides an insight
into the use of language in an informal setting in
a way that previously was not possible. That is to
say that in the pre-internet era (where most pub-
lished content was curated and edited), text that
was available for analysis was not necessarily re-
flective of everyday language use. User-generated
content, on the other hand, provides a clearer snap-
shot of a living language in natural, everyday use.
Analysis of minority language UGC in partic-
ular provides much insight into the evolution of
these languages in the digital age. In some bilin-
gual environments, the overwhelming dominance
of a majority language can sometimes restrict and
discourage the natural use of a minority language.

c 2019 The authors. This article is licensed under a Creative
Commons 4.0 licence, no derivative works, attribution, CC-
BY-ND.
Online environments, on the other hand, can offer
a kind of ‘safe space’ in which these languages can
co-exist and the minority language can thrive. Ad-
ditionally, various interesting linguistic phenom-
ena occur online that may be frowned upon in more
formal settings. The present paper aims to investi-
gate one such phenomenon among Irish-speaking
users of the micro-blogging platform Twitter.
Code-switching occurs whenever a speaker
switches between two (or more) languages in
a multilingual environment. Negative attitudes
towards code-switching have been documented
widely in this field – in particular earlier beliefs
that code-switching indicated a communicative de-
ficiency or lack of mastery of either language. In
fact, the phenomenon is now understood to be in-
dicative of bilingual proficiency (Grosjean, 2010).
Solorio and Liu (2008) note that “when the
country has more than one official language, we
can find instances of code-switching”. Given that
Irish is the first official language of the Republic
of Ireland, with English as the second,1
and given
the well-known existence of code-switching in the
spoken Irish of the Gaeltacht regions (Hickey,
2009), it is unsurprising that Lynn et al. (2015)
and Caulfield (2013, p. 208ff) report that code-
switching is a common feature in Irish UGC. Our
earlier work (Lynn et al., 2015), however, focused
only on a part-of-speech (POS) tagging analysis
of an Irish Twitter data set, without further ex-
ploration of the code-switching phenomenon that
was observed. In fact, the English (code-switched)
segments of tweets were given a general tag that
1Note that English is the more dominant language, with only
17.4% of the population reporting use of Irish outside the
education system http://www.cso.ie/en/media/
csoie/releasespublications/documents/
population/2017/7._The_Irish_language.
pdf
Proceedings of the Celtic Language Technology Workshop 2019 Dublin, 19–23 Aug

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