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Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

av Gretchen McCulloch

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,0824618,722 (4.01)44
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.… (mer)
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My oldest son gave this book to me one Christmas, many many years ago, ;) ... and I've been gradually getting through it to the point where the new rules of language don't necessarily feel that new. My bad. Seriously it is, because while it took me nearly two years to finish this book, I actually did enjoy it.

My nonfiction reading generally tends to be historical research necessary for writing historical fiction. I am predominantly a fiction reader with fiction review goals, while my son... is not. Still, we manage to have meaningful conversations within an extended family that spans from the Silent Generation to the future--what are they, Alphas, now? I don't know yet, but the internet plays its role in keeping us together in spite of our vast differences when it comes to social media language. We share memes and catchphrases, movie quotes, and we often ask questions like "WTF is FUBAR?" or "What do you mean, 'You lost the game?' What game?" (For those who just lost the game, you're welcome...)

Language is meant to evolve, and this book breaks down why we need to accept this by focusing on the evolution of internet and social media language in particular. It gives a little nod to every generation for the complex nature of evolving language and their role in its progress. It might give older generations a better perspective on why, say, a period after a texted sentence is potentially a faux pas. Personally as a writer, I'm not fully accepting of the elimination of punctuation in text threads. Sue me. I was born before '69 (nice). But with the internet influence on the ever evolving fluidity of our language, maybe those Millennials, Gen Zs and Alphas (?) will one day change their minds. Gen X and the Boomers can only hope. ( )
  CaseyAdamsStark | Mar 25, 2024 |
Beautifully written, from the title to the last sentence! ( )
  wpeacejr | Dec 24, 2023 |
This book looks at the history and evolution of digital communication - the ways various generations (not necessarily talking about ages here, but rather internet generations) have taken the tools already available to them and adapted them to the digital world. According to McCulloch's chapter on the various generations of Internet People, I'm most firmly part of the Full Internet People generation, which got on the internet after a lot of its communication norms were already established. I did a lot of my early internet socialization via AOL Instant Messenger, AOL message boards, Neopets, etc., although I don't think I used the internet as a tool to socialize with people I knew from the physical world as much as the majority of McCulloch's Full Internet People.

McCulloch covers a huge variety of topics in this book, going over things like the various ways people have tried to communicate tone of voice in the digital world, emoji as digital versions of gestural communication, memes, texting, chatting, and more. If there's one criticism I have of this book, it's that it was easy to lose track of where I was in whatever arguments McCulloch was making, because there was just so much to take in.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this. It reminded me of the things I loved about my college linguistics classes. One of my favorite quotes from this book: "There's enough genuine malice in the world that we don't need to go hunting for more of it in what is truly a case of harmless difference." Different generations might misunderstand or misinterpret each other's efforts to communicate online, but it's not necessarily an active effort on anyone's part to be rude or obtuse - it's just that people developed different sets of internalized rules based on when, why, and how they began communicating online.

This was a delightful and informative read, and McCulloch's fascination with linguistics and digital communication was infectious. This book was first published in 2019, and I couldn't help but think of what McCulloch might have said about the pandemic and its effect on digital communication (she hasn't written another book yet, but I should probably look into reading her blog posts).

McCulloch's writing style was more conversational than academic, but, for those who'd like to dig into the linguistics literature a bit more, she included a lengthy Notes section with bibliographical references.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Oct 1, 2023 |
When I get stressed, I read pop-linguistics. This was fun: exploring the "verbal" quirks that happen in internet spaces, primarily social media. I particularly liked McCulloch grouping generations of early adaptors, etc. and how different generations, exposed to the internet in different ways, communicate differently. As an Old Internet Person, I've definitely kept a lot of capitalization and format my communication more for e-mails than texts, which I struggle to explain to people only a few years younger than me. I found this very light -- McCulloch is an academic, but definitely not looking to have a completionist approach here -- but memorable: I found myself referring to McCulloch's findings for months after. ( )
  settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
Really cool. Well-written and well-structured. Learned a lot about old internet culture. ( )
  matsuko | Aug 17, 2023 |
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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.

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