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Scratch your head on hashtags

Linguists and grammarians alike have been left scratching their heads when trying to define what a hashtag actually is.
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics Andreea Calude and PhD student David Trye, from the University of Waikato, have conducted research to provide the hashtag with a suitable definition. Their findings are in an article published in The Conversation, ‘Hashtags may not be words, grammatically speaking, but they help spread a message’.
The authors concluded that, according to their research, hashtags can be best described as ‘artificial words’. That definition goes against the two most common definitions of hashtags: that they are a type of compound word, or that they are a uniquely formed, less restricted type of word. 

The authors’ argument for their definition is that hashtags act as a form of creative linguistic expression, but also practically as a type of search engine or catalogue.

This article has been shared in accordance with The Conversation's republishing guidelines.


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