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Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  3,119 ratings  ·  602 reviews
A linguistically informed look at how our digital world is transforming the English language.

Language is humanity's most spectacular open-source project, and the internet is making our language change faster and in more interesting ways than ever before. Internet conversations are structured by the shape of our apps and platforms, from the grammar of status updates to
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)
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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 ·  3,119 ratings  ·  602 reviews

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Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2019 marked it as to-read
But what I really want is a book that explain’s why nobody know’s how to use apostrophe’s anymore ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Ili Pika
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
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
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
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 “
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Mary Cebalt
Jul 30, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Nov 26, 2019 rated it liked it
in hindsight it was maybe not the best idea to listen to the audiobook of a book about written language
。・:*:・゚,。・:*:・゚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.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Skimmed mainly, reading more in depth as something caught my eye. Overall, interesting and informative.
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
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Robin Bonne
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I award this book five stars and all the internets; A++, would read again. (Very linguistics, much awesome, wow)
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Peter Tillman
Aug 05, 2019 marked it as to-read
The author at Scalzi's:
"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
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
Maciej Kuczyński
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, audiobook
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.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Some brief thoughts:

As with many communities, the young women were leading a linguistic change... What was mystifying was how they were getting it. When Milroy asked the women who they were close to, they named friends, family, and coworkers, all from their neighborhood - the same neighborhood where no one else yet had this vowel change.

2. This was absolutely fascinating:
The same Latin-worshipping tradition was responsible for adding superfluous silent letters to words like “dete”
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 of the most
Eustacia Tan
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nlb-ereads
Quick questions:

- When do you use the acronym ‘lol’?
- Is there are different between ikr and IKR?
- When did we start using the phrase “it be”
- How many crying/laughing emojis do you use? Why?
- Is the Internet ruining the English language?

Well, if you’ve ever thought about these questions, or even if you haven’t but are now curious, then you should read Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch. This book looks at the way that the Internet has impacted the English language while taking emojis,
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
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Maybe it's because I was expecting something different that this one didn't quite hit all of the marks as some of the others or maybe it's because it's a weird and hard thing to explain language through the explosion of the internet. I'm a generation that didn't have the internet from birth, I grew up with the revolution and insidiousness that is the internet. But then I'm also one that still uses punctuation in my text messages and capitalize where needed. I hate autocorrect and want more ...more
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GFOP Readers: Because Internet 1 20 Nov 11, 2019 11:59AM  

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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.

“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
“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.” 3 likes
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