Because Internet
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 the protocols of comments and @replies. Linguistically inventive online communities spread new slang and jargon with dizzying speed. What's more, social media is a vast laboratory of unedited, unfiltered words where we can watch language evolve in real time.Even the most absurd-looking slang has genuine patterns behind it. Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch explores the deep forces that shape human language and influence the way we communicate with one another. She explains how your first social internet experience influences whether you prefer "LOL" or "lol," why ~sparkly tildes~ succeeded where centuries of proposals for irony punctuation had failed, what emoji have in common with physical gestures, and how the artfully disarrayed language of animal memes like lolcats and doggo made them more likely to spread.Because Internet is essential reading 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.

Because Internet Details

TitleBecause Internet
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 23rd, 2019
PublisherRiverhead Books
ISBN-139780735210936
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Humanities, Linguistics, Language

Because Internet Review

  • NinjaMuse
    January 1, 1970
    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.8/10To 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.
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Niklas Pivic
    January 1, 1970
    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 “asdlj 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 “asdljklgafdljk” or “asdfkfjas;dfI”—quite distinct from, say, a cat walking across the keyboard, which might look like “tfgggggggggggggggggggsxdzzzzzzzz.” Here’s a few patterns we can observe in keysmash:• Almost always begins with “a”• Often begins with “asdf”• Other common subsequent characters are g, h, j, k, l, and ;, but less often in that order, and often alternating or repeating within this second group• Frequently occurring characters are the “home row” of keys that the fingers are on in rest position, suggesting that keysmashers are also touch typists• If any characters appear beyond the middle row, top-row characters (qwe . . .) are more common than bottom-row characters (zxc . . .)• Generally either all lowercase or all caps, and rarely contains numbersKeysmashing may be shifting, though: I’ve noticed a second kind, which looks more like “gbghvjfbfghchc” than “asafjlskfjlskf,” from thumbs mashing against the middle of a smartphone keyboard.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:Although Arabizi was initially made necessary because computers didn’t support the Arabic alphabet, it’s now taken on a social dimension. A paper by David Palfreyman and Muhamed Al Khalil, analyzing chat conversations between students at an English-speaking university in the United Arab Emirates, gave an example of a cartoon that one student drew to represent other students in her class.One student was labeled with the name “Sheikha,” using the official Romanization of the university. But the nickname version of the same name, which doesn’t have an officially sanctioned spelling, was written in the cartoon as “shwee5”—using Arabizi “5” to represent the same sound as the official “kh.”It’s a hand-drawn cartoon: there’s no technological reason for either name to be written in the Latin alphabet. But at least for some people, it’s become cool: participants in the study commented that “we feel that only ppl of our age could understand such symbols” and that it makes “the word sound more like ‘Arabic’ pronunciation rather than English. For example, we would type the name (‘7awla) instead of (Khawla). It sounds more Arabic this way”).”For natural and linguistic reasons, Twitter seems to be a perfect playground to analyse internet language in our age:Jacob Eisenstein, the linguist who was Twitter-mapping “yinz” and “hella,” and his collaborator Umashanthi Pavalanathan at Georgia Tech decided to split up English tweets in a different way. Rather than look at location, language, or script, they looked at the difference between tweets about a particular topic, say the Oscars, versus tweets in conversation with another person.They theorized that, just as in person we’d generally talk more formally when addressing a roomful of people than when talking one on one, we’re directing a tweet with a hashtag towards a large group of people. Our @mentions, on the other hand, are more informal, only noticed by a select few—and we adjust our language electronically the same way we do out loud. Studies of people who tweet in other languages show a similar pattern. A Dutch study of people who tweet in both the locally dominant language, Dutch, and a local minority language, Frisian or Limburgish, found that tweets with hashtags were more likely to be written in Dutch, so as to reach a broader audience, but that users would often switch to a minority language when they were replying to someone else’s tweet. The inverse was less common: few people would start in a smaller language for the hashtagged tweet and switch to the larger language for the one-on-one reply. 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.
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  • Racheal
    January 1, 1970
    I got aproved for an ARC!! *Kermit flail*
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