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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Ebony

    While it would be almost impossible to write about all of Internet language and culture, McCulloch does a great job at looking at internet language and culture from a linguistics standpoint. She highlights not only language but also how different generations of internet users interact online and how language has grown and had an impact both online and offline. She touches on many different topics including memes, emojis (which turned out to be way more fascinating than I had expected), the nuanc

    While it would be almost impossible to write about all of Internet language and culture, McCulloch does a great job at looking at internet language and culture from a linguistics standpoint. She highlights not only language but also how different generations of internet users interact online and how language has grown and had an impact both online and offline. She touches on many different topics including memes, emojis (which turned out to be way more fascinating than I had expected), the nuances of nonverbal tone of voice, along with many other topics. I think anyone can find something interesting in this book no matter how much they do or don't use the internet in their daily lives.

  • Jordan

    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

    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 interesting parts of the book, and I think is indicative of just how different this work is than the dime-a-dozen Internet think pieces that make the rounds every year. McCulloch argues that Internet generations are defined not by age but by when they first got online, dismissing the "Internet native" as a myth that obscures more nuanced delineations. For example, Old Internet People may have started out as adults in the tech industry or particularly nerdy teenagers, but what unites them is that they got online pre-World Wide Web, and likely have significantly more technical knowledge than users from later generations.

    As a linguist, McCulloch's approach is neither defensive nor accusatory, and it's a refreshing change of pace.

  • Gloria

    A great introduction to internet language and society that gave me structural ways to understand internet groups and consider the meaning behind so many choices and actions. I found it unexpected and wonderful that Gretchen advocates for empathy and understanding when it comes to language. The people cannot be detached from language, and I appreciate her understanding of that.

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