Swifties Have Their Own Language? Harvard Linguist Makes Surprising Revelation About Taylor Swift and Her Fans

Published 05/28/2024, 9:14 PM EDT

Taylor Swift commands a vast fanbase known as Swifties. In popular culture, their collective influence has created a truly unique phenomenon, deeply knowledgeable about all things Swift. But do they have their own language? A Harvard linguist recently shed light on how the pop star may have spawned a distinct parlance that any Swiftie can decipher at any time. This surprising revelation suggests that Swift is no longer just a global pop music phenomenon but has also become a reason for academic brainstorming. 

Her cultivation of this dedicated fanbase could potentially be studied as an academic phenomenon, with their rulebook already containing its dialect.

Harvard Linguist discloses the dialect used by Taylor Swift fans

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In a recent Instagram reel, Harvard linguist Adam Aleksic, known as EtymologyNerd, discusses the unique linguistic system shared by Taylor Swift and her fans through her lyrics. Aleksic highlights how Swifties can effortlessly quote Swift's lyrics, prompting curiosity about their ability to do so. It seems they have developed a language for themselves, understandable only among themselves, which serves as a "private signal" that bonds them.

This language, crafted by Swift and her fans, is reportedly a newly recognized linguistic phenomenon called a fanilect, which arises from a shared set of meanings derived by the fan group. They reportedly follow a localized version of inter-textual discourse, drawing from Swift's extensive lyrics, enabling communication beyond the set construct of meaning. Sometimes, the fanilect can infiltrate mainstream culture. 

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Swifties can, however, distinguish between dialects used by insiders and outsiders, and one great example has been shared by Aleksic.

Adam Aleksic weighs in between the Taylor Swift fanilect used by insiders and outsiders

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Intertextuality allows individuals to expand the meanings of certain phrases beyond their original context. Adam Aleksic illustrates this concept with the popularization of the quote, “I’m the problem, it’s me”. The lyrics are taken from 'Anti-Hero' from her 2022 album, 'Midnights'. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal once used the quote during a congressional hearing of the Ticketmaster debacle.

Blumenthal is not a Swiftie and does not speak the fanilect. However, his use of Swift's lyrics garnered significant media attention because of its out-of-context application. While Swift had already gained academic interest with Harvard University offering a course on her, the recent revelation of a linguistic system within the Swiftie community highlights her profound impact as a cultural phenomenon.

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What do you think of Adam Aleksic's revelation of the fanilect used by Taylor Swift and Swifties? Let us know in the comments below!

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Anushka Bhattacharya

810 articles

I'm Anushka Bhattacharya, an entertainment journalist at Netflix Junkie. Armed with a degree in literature, I once wielded my words to catalyze change within society through my work with NGOs. However, as I stumbled into the exuberant hole of crime thrillers and documentaries on Netflix, it was love at first sight and pushed me into entertainment journalism.

Edited By: Itti Mahajan

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