CTFU is short for “cracking the fuck up” (or, if Urban Dictionary is to be trusted, “chut the fuck up” and “chill the fuck up” (wait, seriously?)). At the Linguistic society of America meeting earlier this year, Jacob Eisenstein, Brendan O’Connor, Noah A. Smith, and Eric P. Xing presented some data [PDF] showing that CTFU was limited in geographic scope to a region between Detroit and Philadelphia.
This is a strange distribution, since it crosses a number of traditional dialect boundaries, and yet it seems to have some legs. More than a year after the set of tweets they used in their analysis, we see CTFU keeping largely to the same region, perhaps having spread a bit into the DC area. Altanta also seems to use it, but otherwise its main base of usage is from Cleveland to the NYC/DC corridor, with only a few people using it elsewhere.
The AV Club interviewed lexicographer Ben Zimmer on Jersey and Philadelphia slang some time ago, and one particular regional divide he talked about stood out to me. Zimmer said:
What’s cool about that is seeing the way New Jersey gets divided up by the New York sphere of influence and the Philadelphia sphere of influence; you can find a dividing line along the Jersey Shore where people talk about bennys and where people talk about shoobies.
And sure enough, we see that in SeeTweet. The map above shows tweets including the word shoobies. South Jersey and Philly (and even Baltimore and DC) show lots of talk about shoobies, but North Jersey and New York don’t. Unfortunately, there are too many other meanings for bennys to get a clear view of the opposite division, so I didn’t include a map for it.