Saturday, February 1, 2020

Because Internet

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language
By Gretchen McCullouch
Riverhead Books, 2019. 326 pages. Nonfiction

It shouldn't be a shock to you, as you read a book review on a blog, that the Internet has changed the way we speak. In fact, thanks in part to the Internet, the English language is changing faster and in more interesting ways than ever before. Different platforms structure how we talk on the Internet, from the grammar of Facebook status updates to the unspoken rules about #hashtags and @replies. Social media is a vast collection of unedited, unfiltered words where we can watch language evolve in real time.

This book is a great read for anyone who's wondered how to punctuate a text message or questioned where memes come from. As an internet linguist, McCulloch explores the forces behind the Internet-influenced patterns in language: how does your first social internet experience influence whether you prefer "LOL" or "lol"? Why have ~sparkly tildes~ succeeded in conveying sarcasm or irony, where centuries of proposed punctuation have failed? She links emoji with physical gestures and explains how the disarrayed language of animal memes (like teh lolcats and doggo) made them more likely to spread. This delightful book explains how the Internet is changing the way we communicate, why that's a good thing, and what our online interactions can reveal about who we are.


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