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Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  3,757 ratings  ·  713 reviews
Because Internet is for anyone who's ever puzzled over how to punctuate a text message or wondered where memes come from. It's the perfect book for understanding how the internet is changing the English language, why that's a good thing, and what our online interactions reveal about who we are.

Language is humanity's most spectacular open-source project, and the internet
...more
Kindle Edition, 335 pages
Published July 23rd 2019 by Riverhead Books
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May Helena Plumb Yes - I think a lot of teenagers would particularly appreciate it because it takes their online language use seriously, rather than dismissing it! (It…moreYes - I think a lot of teenagers would particularly appreciate it because it takes their online language use seriously, rather than dismissing it! (It will also give them insight into how other people use the internet differently than them...)(less)
Verla Yes. Gretchen discusses everything about this topic in the context of linguistic concepts you will encounter in any study of language.
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Jenna
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find the evolution of languages fascinating so as soon as I saw the cover/title of this book, I knew it was one I'd enjoy. The author Gretchen McCulloch is a linguist who studies internet language. In this book she shows us how English has transformed since and because of the internet. She explores memes, hashtags, emoticons, and emojis, showing how we use them in place of gestures and facial expressions in our written online language. Indeed, we communicate so much through non-verbal methods ...more
Sarah
Aug 22, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
But what I really want is a book that explain’s why nobody know’s how to use apostrophe’s anymore ...more
Amanda
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The first book I've ever felt was written for ME: an Internet kid of a particular micro-generation, interested in examining my online life with as much respect and rigor as we apply to traditional literature and academic studies. I LOVED this book. I'll be buying copies for my dad, my little sister, and people of many ages in between.
NinjaMuse
In brief: A linguist looks at the ways the internet has changed English, with digressions into internet culture as a whole.

Full disclosure: This was a reading copy which I received through work, with the expectation that I would like it enough to review it and then order it for stock. This book is out July 23, 2019.

Thoughts: This was a really interesting read, containing a lot of stuff I knew without knowing and also stuff I hadn’t thought about. It’s also a good, well-structured introduction to
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Ili Pika
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Because #IamOld

A review of a book about the linguistics of the internet.

I looked forward to this book because #IamOld and often puzzled by things I read on the internet and would like to understand them better. This book helped, in that I now know that the eggplant emoji is meant as a phallic symbol and that using a period at the end of a sentence may get me in trouble with a certain audience. Okay #helpful.

Because #IamOld, I have been reading, and loving, stories and language for a long time.
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Donna Backshall
I was so excited to finally get this audiobook on loan from my library. I felt like I'd been waiting for months, which of course is a great sign. I love linguistics and this is a popular book, so I was expecting a good solid read.

Well, it's a weird book. Informative, yes, but also weird.

It's weird because McCulloch uses words like "wonderfully" and "innovative" to praise EVERY SINGLE CHANGE that has been made to communication in The Internet Age. Fine, I'm all for progress and optimism too, but
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Mara
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say-- nerdy books about language are my thing :). This was a really insightful analysis of how internet communications have evolved over time. The highlights for me were her dissection of different "generations" of internet users (e.g. "old internet" vs. "full internet," etc.), as well as the emoji chapter. This is one of the books that ends up having a lot of descriptive power, and I appreciated how it made me more aware of why I talk the way I do online
Rebecca
I’m surprised by how fascinating I found this: I’m a late adopter when it comes to technology (I’m still resisting a smartphone) and I haven’t given linguistics a thought since that one class I took in college, but it turns out that my proofreader’s interest in the English language and my daily use of e-mail and social media were enough to make it extremely relevant. The Montreal linguist’s thesis is that the Internet popularized informal writing and quickly incorporates changes in slang and ...more
Wanda
I found this author’s joy in her research to be contagious. She obviously loves linguistics and her interactions on the internet. In these days when there is so much contention and negativity on the interwebz, this is great to read.

As she points out, the use of slang presupposes that the writer knows the correct usage that they are deviating from and therefore is enjoying the process. And there have been panics about telephone use, among other technologies. Language evolves and someday in the
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Niklas Pivic
This is as much a guide into the world of how living with internet—and all device-interconnected glories around it—has changed language and the ways in which we think, as it is a linguistic analysis into how language has become intertwined with internet.

An example of when digital communications can be analysed:

Even keysmash, that haphazard mashing of fingers against keyboard to signal a feeling so intense that you can’t even type real words, has patterns.

A typical keysmash might look like “
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Mary Cebalt
I ended up being a little let down by this book. Maybe it was just that I was expecting something different. I was really hoping for more talk about current linguistics/language from the internet. It was heavily about the history of the internet, which definitely served a purpose and was necessary to understand the evolution of our language with the internet. But there seemed to be little actual discussion on the interesting linguistic aspects of the internet and more of a long history lesson. ...more
thefourthvine
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a lot of fun, but more in a nostalgia sense than a learning-things sense. I, apparently, am an Old Internet Person (and the daughter of an Old Internet Person; my father was online before I was, because he started out on arpanet), and unlike the Old Internet People described in the book, I’ve been trucking right along through most social media platforms and linguistic changes. (McCulloch says most people’s linguistic patterns are set in adolescence. That is definitely not the experience ...more
Mehrsa
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating research about the evolution of online language and the differences between generations. I am not a digital native and so I always try to use good grammar in texts and tweets and I know that the cool young kids have a different way of interacting with it than I do. It was really nice to have the data to make sense of it. McCulloch has the coolest research agenda ever.
Fatma
in hindsight it was maybe not the best idea to listen to the audiobook of a book about written language
Jennie
。・:*:・゚,。・:*:・゚4.5 stars。・:*:・゚,。・:*:・゚

Brilliant and joyful examination of language in the age of the internet. You'll learn something and you'll enjoy the ride. I think most people would find this interesting, but all you language/internet nerds out there will love it.
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Peter Tillman
A good book by a linguist about language on the internet. It's a bit scattershot, but I ended up reading, and liking, most of it. Her enthusiasm is infectious -- though we do get linguist-type stuff like (p. 138) when she "almost fell off her chair" on figuring out the use of the tilde in internet sarcasm. And the ~*~sparkle~*~ ecosystem! Heh.

My favorite chapter was her chapter on Internet People. By her classification, I fall into the tail end of the Old Internet group, from my Usenet activity
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Julie
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Skimmed mainly, reading more in depth as something caught my eye. Overall, interesting and informative.
Leslie
As an applied linguist and Full Internet Person according to the standards of this book, I adored this. It made me laugh out loud and constantly rethink why I communicate the way I do when I’m online with my frands and why we can share very specific memes with each other and it’s like we’ve exchanged a knowing glance across the room.

This was pretty accessible to read, although I can see a lot of the humor going over the heads of people who don’t internet it up every day. There is a lot about
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Anna
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Because Internet' is a highly entertaining examination of changing linguistic norms in the internet age. It hits that sweet spot between accessible writing and analytical rigour impressively well throughout. Successive chapters provoked a lot of thoughts about my own communication habits and those of my friends, family, colleagues, students, and peer group. It also gave me a much appreciated explanation as to why people use emojis, which I didn't previously understand the point of. They have ...more
Anya
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
As a Full Internet Person and a language nerd (who probably would have studied linguistics had it been an option at her university), this book is RIGHT up my linguistic internet alley!

I have been following Gretchen’s blog All Things Linguistic for years, and to see all her hard work culminate in this book is amazing!

Have you ever had to explain to your parents why their texts come across as passive aggressive? Have you tried and failed to explain a meme to a Semi Internet Person?? Have you ever
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Kelly
This checked all of my internet/language/nerdery boxes. A really thoughtful dive into linguistics and how the internet has shaped the ways we speak and relate to one another. I was really taken with the section on the internet as a third place, as this has always been a particular interest of mine, and I love how McCulloch explains all of the ways that it is.

On audio, this is a hoot. McCulloch performs herself, with her perfect Canadian accent, and listening to her explain memes without the
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Robin Bonne
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
Even though I lived through much of internet culture, this chronological blast through the past brought back a lot of memories. Language has been changing and this thoroughly researched book details how the internet impacts the way we write, speak, and communicate with one another.
Anne-Cara
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I award this book five stars and all the internets; A++, would read again. (Very linguistics, much awesome, wow)
Neil R. Coulter
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: editing, non-fiction


Finally—an excellent book about internet-influenced language change! Other books on this topic (I’m thinking especially of Emmy Favilla’s dreary A World Without “Whom”) bothered me, but Gretchen McCulloch has triumphed. And the reason is simple: other authors in this area convey a sarcastic, smirky, mocking attitude toward the subject and at least some of their readers. By contrast, McCulloch writes from deep joy and delight, welcoming the reader as a friend who either already shares her
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Lauren
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I love linguistics. I think it’s fascinating to read about the complexities, history, and grammatical eccentricities of new languages. I love learning about developments over time, how phrases are tied to historical events, the differences between formal and informal communications. And I love the internet and all its weird, culty, brilliantly expressive linguistic conventions. Needless to say, my expectations for this book were pretty high. But overall, this book just wasn’t for me. I was ...more
Jen
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was super fun to listen to, and I'm glad that I opted to listen (the author's twitter posts about pronouncing keysmash and lol, etc. were a tipping point -- how could I, an dyed-in-the-wool internet denizen and audiobook aficionado, resist?).

I thought it was really fascinating to hear my life described (I was an early internet person, first getting online in the heyday of IRC chat and I had files full of ASCII art in my non-graphical-interface-using email service, even if I wasn't really
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Megan Richardson
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Would recommend for people interested in language, the internet, a social history of the last ~30 years, or anyone wondering why “the youths” talk like they do.
Sharon
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This is a fascinating and incredibly accessible look at how language has evolved in tandem with the internet. Although it's primarily about English, McCulloch is thoughtful about incorporating examples from around the world whenever possible.

My personal favorite part of the analysis goes beyond typical generation names (Millennials, Gen-Xers, Boomers) to group people into linguistic cohorts: the way we talk to each other online is shaped more by our specific entry points to the internet than by
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Amy
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I'm an editor and an avid reader so I enjoy learning about language in general, and words, and how they evolve and affect us. But, honestly, I felt like this book could have been condensed down to a really good article and it would have held my attention better. I appreciate all the research she put into the subject, but, for me, it was just too much. I felt there were a lot of explanations and discussions that didn't really add anything to my ...more
Maciej Kuczyński
a book about internet grammar? yes please
guess i should learn my lesson from it and start writing like this lol
perhaps not but the book itself was really informative and i agree with almost everything the author said
her description of semi and full internet people is spot on
i could totally assign people of my age into one or the other category
i myself am the full internet person of course lol

i listened to the audiobook which was narrated by the author herself and it seems she had a lot of fun
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Gretchen McCulloch is an internet linguist!

She writes the Resident Linguist column at Wired (and formerly at The Toast). McCulloch has a master’s in linguistics from McGill University, runs the blog All Things Linguistic, and cohosts Lingthusiasm, a podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics. She lives in Montreal, but also on the internet.

“Like the big collaborative projects of the internet, such as Wikipedia and Firefox, like the decentralized network of websites and machines that make up the internet itself, language is a network, a web. Language is the ultimate participatory democracy. To put it in technological terms, language is humanity's most spectacular open source project.” 5 likes
“IBM experimented with adding Urban Dictionary data to its artificial intelligence system Watson, only to scrub it all out again when the computer started swearing at them.” 4 likes
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