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Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,928 ratings  ·  383 reviews
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!!

A Wired Must-Read Book of Summer

"Gretchen McCulloch is the internet's favorite linguist, and this book is essential reading. Reading her work is like suddenly being able to see the matrix." --Jonny Sun, author of everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too

Because Internet is for anyone who's ever puzzled over how to punctuate a text message or wondered whe
...more
Hardcover, 336 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)
Brenan I’m also studying linguistics, and I found this book to be a very interesting and informative read. If you have any interest in internet linguistics,…moreI’m also studying linguistics, and I found this book to be a very interesting and informative read. If you have any interest in internet linguistics, I do think it would be beneficial for you, yep :)(less)
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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 meth ...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.
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 😑
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-st
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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, sto
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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 k/>
Even
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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 progres
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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.
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
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.
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. T ...more
Robin Bonne
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
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.
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?? H
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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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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 vis
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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)
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 inter
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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
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Jenne
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, nonfiction
Apparently I am an “Old Internet Person”, having first encountered it back in the Usenet era. It was fun to relive all the changes internet language has gone through since then. (Although she left out the ^H^H^H for performative backspacing that we used to use in chat way back when.)
Remember l33tspeak?? And somehow I’d totally forgotten about lolcats, I don’t know how that’s possible. And there are just really a lot of deep thoughts about emoji here.
Peter Tillman
The author at Scalzi's: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2019/08/0...
Excerpt:
"I found out that, paradoxically, a book can be bigger than the internet. The very constraints of a book — its linearity, its lack of updates — are also its greatest strengths. I can be far more confident that each reader will have a roughly similar experience of a book, rather than spidering off in all directions as with hypertext. When I work on an article or the podcast, I have to assume that each individual post or episode might be the first time some
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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 he
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Megan
The age of the internet is the age of widespread informal writing. Before, the informal writing we engaged in (and that linguists could study) was limited in scope and publicness: postcards, notes passed during class, post-its and other memos, grocery lists, yearbook inscriptions, and the like. And while the ubiquity of informal writing does not, has not, and will not eliminate formal writing--essays, articles, etc.--we're now also engaged in a whole lot more informal writing on a regular basis, ...more
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 inter ...more
Jordan
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If you know just enough about Internet culture to be interested in this book than you'll probably get a lot from it. Know too little and the examples she uses will likely be inaccessible; know too much and you'll probably be bored. In either case, though, you might still find the analyses of the Internet's effects on non-Internet interactions to be interesting, and even Full Internet People (to use McCulloch's taxonomy) might not know all of the history.

That taxonomy is actually one
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Mark Jr.
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book, audio, 2019
Listen to the audio book, because this woman is an international treasure (not national; because Canada). (That was hip internet speak that even I am not sure I understood.)

But seriously, Gretchen Mculloch, is a riot and a hoot and a personality—and a serious linguist with insights into emojis, of all things. I loved hearing the history of minor punctuation practices on the erstwhile Internet.

I heard Gretchen on the awesome Lexicon Valley podcast. I never thought I’d hear
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Jake Goretzki
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
"a highly enjoyable & culturally tiiiiiiiimely book lol bookjake!goretzki xoxoxox"

Such a great subject. I found the recent-ish history of online language very entertaining and informative (all those US college dorks and maths weirdos talking Star Trek on machines with less memory than your gran's Nokia 5110) and the taxonomy of generations startlingly accurate (I know which one I am). In some ways it was like reading a rock and roll history talking about the music scene you narro
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Clara Biesel
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been wanting to read this book since forever. Okay. Maybe not this book exactly, but an in-depth, full length look at the ways the context of the internet is changing the way we use our language. I feel like there is so much judging and shaming about spending time on the internet-- it was incredibly refreshing to have someone profoundly in the know give me new vocabulary to think with about these issues. And so. Fascinating.
Orla
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, nerdy, nonfic
A must-read for anyone who cares about language and how it changes over time, and an invaluable weapon in any argument with fusty prescriptivists who lament the "dumbing down" of language. It's not dumbing down, it's evolving, and the internet gives us a unique opportunity to watch that evolution as it happens.

I did my linguistics thesis on the influence of American movies on the speech of young Irish people, back before the internet was a widely available thing. Post-phrasal negatio
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Laura Noggle
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
“When we thought of language like a book, perhaps it was natural that we were worried and careful about what we enshrined in it. But now that we can think of language like the internet, it’s clear that there is space for innovation, space for many Englishes and many other languages besides, space for linguistic playfulness and creativity. There’s space, in this glorious linguistic web, for you.“

Fun overview of internet language and the evolution of net speak.

“We create successful co
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Sleepless
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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.

“Still, it’s tempting to mislabel the many words currently being appropriated into general American pop culture from African American English as “social media words” simply because they’re used by young people, and young people are on social media, without giving due credit to the words’ true origins. Fittingly, the internet has come up with a word for this: columbusing, or white people claiming to discover something that was already well established in another community, by analogy with how Columbus gets credit for discovering America despite the millions of people who already lived there.” 2 likes
“Clearly, it's not the R's fault. R is a harmless consonant that never asked to be embroiled in any of our petty human squabbles.” 2 likes
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