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Analyzing the Impact of Generational Variations on Vocabulary and Syntax in Instagram Posts of Older and Younger Adults

Dr. Abdulaziz Alshahrani
Department of Foreign Languages, Al-Baha University, Saudi Arabia
Keywords: inter-speaker variation, linguistic variation, language and age, gender, social media, vocabulary, syntax ,


The purpose of this study was to investigate the variations in vocabulary and syntax in Instagram posts relating to food among younger and older men and women in the United Kingdom. The study sought to determine if differences in these linguistic features would affect the expression of users on the platform, which was the dependent variable under assessment. To achieve this aim, Instagram posts about food, posted by a sample comprising 37 young adult men and 43 young adult women aged between 18-24 years and by 47 older men and women aged 59 years or older, were collected and analyzed for their vocabulary and syntactic features. Vocabulary was measured in terms of the number of words used in the posts and their mean values, given that the number of posts varied by gender and age group. Syntactic characteristics were measured by counting the presence or absence of a subject and verb, the quality of adjectives used, and any reference to time or location concerning food quality. The results were presented using tables and charts, and examples were provided for each observation presented in the results section. The findings of the study support the view that gender and age influence social media posts concerning vocabulary and syntax. The study discovered that younger men and women tend to use a more extensive range of words and adjectives of varying quality, while older people tend to use fewer words and unique quality adjectives. Memory loss, which affects older people, could explain the observed tendency of using fewer words. This research highlights a few areas for future research, such as exploring the relationship between the use of slang words and age or gender and examining the effects of age and gender on social media use in different cultures. Additionally, the study acknowledges limitations such as the small sample size and the limitations of using Instagram as a representation of social media behavior as well as confining the study to a single country affecting its generalizability. In conclusion, this study provides evidence that age and gender are significant factors influencing the linguistic features of Instagram posts on food. This research is a valuable addition to the current literature on social media communication and provides useful insights for marketers and social media users.