English: A Happy Language?

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It looks like English may be a "happy language," according to a study by Cornell and University of Vermont researchers. What's the benefit?  The folks over at Wired break it down like this: "some anthropologists see language as a vehicle for humanity’s essential social characteristics, especially our capacities for sharing, altruism and other “pro-social” behavior." That sounds positive, indeed!

The researchers analyzed billions of words from sources like Google Books, Twitter, and song lyrics to create a list of the most used words. Then they did some serious math. The result of their analysis: "the human-perceived positivity of over 10,000 of the most frequently used English words exhibits a clear positive bias." Basically, we use words that we consider happy more than words we consider negative.

The study is a little more complicated than this, but I wanted to test in on a small scale. I generated a Tweet cloud to see if the words I was using the most had a positive or negative slant. Turns out "dude" and "totally" are higher up on the list than I might have liked, but "awesome" and "love" made it too. Dude, I'm totally happy with that.

Check out your own language with the Tweet Cloud app and read the whole study here; what kinds of words are you using?

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