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The Scots Words and Place-names (SWAP) project uses social media to investigate language use in Scotland. Traditional means of data collection, such as interviews and questionnaires, are inefficient, while results disseminated through expensive publications reach a limited audience. The problems are particularly acute for a language such as Scots, which has no standard written form and a range of regional varieties, and which until recently was accorded lower status than its close relative English. SWAP will use integrated online community engagement methods to provide a framework for the public to access existing research into Scots, and to contribute their own local knowledge to ongoing research. The infrastructure and computing support for SWAP are provided by Enroller an ongoing collaboration between English Language and the National e-Science Centre, both at the University of Glasgow.

SWAP aims to:

  • enhance the Scottish Language Dictionaries’ National Word Collection through an online forum for the public to exchange information with lexicographers
  • promote research into Scots terms in place-names through an online forum for the public to exchange information on local place-names with place-name scholars
  • harvest new data for the Word Collection by using social media on the Web as a corpus
  • build awareness of the use of the Scots language among the younger community by running a Schools competition for stories, songs or essays written in Scots, with online voting through a social network platform application.

The main outputs and outcomes will be:

  • Expanded and revised version of the Scottish Language Dictionaries’ National Word Collection.
  • Glossary of Scots terms in place-names, available online as part of Enroller’s interoperable search system
  • Journal articles and conference papers discussing the viability of the use of social media in the investigation of language use
  • Enhanced awareness of the use of Scots among all age groups within the community
  • Closer engagement between the academy and the community.

SWAP is a JISC-funded project based at the University of Glasgow in partnership with the National e-Science Centre and in collaboration with Scottish Language Dictionaries and the Scottish Place-name Society.