Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

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 th...

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Title:Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language
Author:Gretchen McCulloch
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Edition Language:English

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language Reviews

  • 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

    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 the history of the internet in social (as opposed to technical) terms - why people got online and how, how they created communities and therefore communicative contexts, and how that has evolved as we have created new and better ways of communicating with each other.

  • Amanda

    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.

  • 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.

  • Mehrsa

    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.

  • Robin Bonne

    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.

  • 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

    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 linguistics and specifically sociolinguistics—not as in depth as a textbook would be, but with compressed versions of the core ideas in accessible, modern language. I liked that McCulloch makes a point to not only lay out her reasoning as to why she focused on some linguistic features over others, but also to cite originators of memes and slang when possible.

    As for the contents, they’re a little hard to sum up simply because there’s a lot of stuff covered. The evolution of internet culture and generational profiles of its users. The semantic uses of gifs and emojis. Twitter and Facebook as research tools. Minimalist Tumblr punctuation and the contentiousness of periods in texts. The history of memes. The informality of emails compared to letters. Emphatic letter duplication. Just for starters. Like I said, I knew a lot of the content just from living on the internet for so long, but it was nice having it verbalized and the sociology I largely did not know and it was very cool.

    And while McCulloch doesn’t cover everything—the “because + noun phrase” formation doesn’t appear despite the title, for instance, and the spread of internet usages into spoken English is barely touched on—a lot of those gaps are things you could do a dissertation on and internet linguistics is a pretty new field, so I have hopes for either a follow-up or a book by somebody else. She definitely leaves things open and encouraging to anyone wanting to follow her lead. (Doing linguistics research and stumped for ideas? Hit me up. I have thoughts.)

    So yeah, definitely a good book and very much written for me the internet goblin linguistics nerd. Anyone who’s interested in language, the internet, understanding what the heck is up with kids these days, and/or the social history of our times should add this to their TBR.

    8/10

    To bear in mind: Will challenge your ideas about language and the internet, unless you’re a linguist already. If you’re already a linguist, will give you at least ten ideas for research papers. Might also give you flashbacks to the 1990s, regardless of educational leanings.

  • 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:

    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:

    If you don't think that analysis is enticing, don't worry, this book may still be for you.

    McColloch writes passionately and knowingly about a lot, and she doesn't just flail away; the book is structured, and heads into matters chronologically, not only showing how people have used "internet jargon" since decades, but also (naturally) how it's evolved.

    I loved reading about how romanisation works in languages like the Arabic:

    For natural and linguistic reasons, Twitter seems to be a perfect playground to analyse internet language in our age:

    There's a lot of brilliant parts about stuff like trying to handle irony—about which there are some magnificent and quite unbelievable notes—typography, markup language, youth, memes, cats (of course), doge, emblem gestures, and how long somebody pauses in language before the person they're talking to thinks something starts feeling weird.

    This book is colourful, brilliant training, easy-going, and its author very knowledgeable. This book is very needed, perhaps especially for Old Internet People like myself. I recommend this to all who are interested in language and who gripe too much to know that language does, thankfully, evolve; learn how or devolve.

  • Ili Pika

    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. B

    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. Because I love them, I sometimes write things, although I am a much better reader than writer. I do believe it is essential for a writer to know who their audience is, since, as Ms. McCulloch explains in the beginning of the book, we all tend to modify our speech and writing depending on who we are talking to.

    I’m not sure who the target audience is for this book. The structure is somewhat academic: a theory or idea is introduced, research is cited, and conclusions are drawn for various aspects of internet language. It also seems to be oriented towards linguists, rather than the general public, since its focus is on how internet language, and its norms and nuances, developed historically, and differences in who uses what are examined. I did not find this all that fascinating, but maybe that is because #IamOld.

    The author has great enthusiasm for her subject and that is engaging. However, there was, to me, a certain tone of defensiveness against an unstated “them” who seem to feel that, because this new “dialect” is not standard written English, it is illegitimate or wrong in some way. I suspect that, because #IamOld, I may inadvertently be one of “them.”

    I must confess, I like punctuation. Its purpose, again to me, is to facilitate the reader’s task. However, an example from the book:

    is lovely and I have no trouble reading and appreciating it. If everyone on the internet was able to put words together in such a clear way, I wouldn’t mind giving up punctuation altogether. But… Sometimes posts are so garbled in terms of sentence structure and grammar and spelling that I find myself laboring to understand what the writer is trying to say. Most of the time I just scroll on past them, once I realize I’m working so hard. But maybe that is because #IamOld.

    I’m halfway through this book and while there have been bits and pieces that were of interest, I’m not sure I’m much clearer about Understanding the New Rules of Language. Also not sure these new rules are any easier or more flexible than the old rules, and they seem like they will require an equal amount of effort to learn to use properly. But maybe that is because #IamOld. (Also because I have never in my life, except for one time that was by accident, been cool.) I may finish this book at some point, or use it for reference, but I'm done for now.

    (Apologies to anyone offended or confused by my use of periods.) :)

    tl;dr An exquisitely detailed look at the nuance of internet language. May be TMI for general readers.

  • 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

    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. The author so many times made comments like "(more on memes in the next chapter)" and then never would really get to it in the following chapters. I felt there were so many interesting aspects of internet language usage that were sorely missing. When she used examples of current popular phrases or typography it was much more enjoyable - that's what I really would have liked to see more of. Things like "in my feels" "I can't even" "tldr" and memes - I would have loved to hear more expansion but was given more of a hard-to-follow, scattered and sometimes boring lesson on odd things that didn't seem to do with anything. I guess I am a little confused what the overarching purpose was. I still enjoyed quite a bit, but had to skim a lot to find the pieces that interested me.

    I did learn some, and found certain parts really interesting and a few moments that made me chuckle. She did a good job explaining the reasoning behind certain language constructs and how they came to be. It was interesting to learn about Arabizi and the like. The typographical tone of voice chapter was particularly interesting to me. I guess I would have liked more regarding internet culture. Maybe it just wasn't what I was expecting.

  • Sarah

    But what I really want is a book that explain’s why nobody know’s how to use apostrophe’s anymore 😑

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