Understanding how language is changing
A fizzing take on how the internet is transforming language by the resident linguist at Wired. A critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller.
THE ACCLAIMED NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.
Because Internet is 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.
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.
'McCulloch is such a disarming writer - lucid, friendly, unequivocally excited about her subject - that I began to marvel at the flexibility of the online language she describes, with its numerous shades of subtlety.' New York Times
“McCulloch’s book is a good start in guiding readers to consider the wild language of the internet as a thing of wonder—a valuable feature, not a bug.”
Wall Street Journal
“In prose at once scholarly and user-friendly, McCulloch unpacks the evolution of language in the digital age, providing a comprehensive survey of everything from the secret language of emojis to the appeal of animal memes.”
“Rather than obsessing about what the internet is doing to language, [Because Internet] largely focuses on what can be learned about language from the internet. . . . McCulloch's book is about the birth of a new medium.”
“An effervescent study of how the digital world is transfiguring English. . . . [McCulloch’s] almost political thesis—the more voices, the better—rebukes both the élitism of traditional grammar snobs and the cliquishness of, say, Tumblr. It’s a vision of language as one way to make room for one another.”
The New Yorker
“A well-researched retort to grumpy grammarians who think technology is turning kids into lazy, inarticulate drivelers.”
“A compelling narrative rich with examples from her own online activities, a healthy dose of humor, and plenty of cat memes… the breadth of topics covered—from conversation analysis to meme culture to the development of texting as we now know it—makes this book useful, engaging, and enjoyable.”
“Sometimes it seems like the internet is a seething brew of ugliness and misery. So it's nice to remember that, as well as the lawless drudgery, there are complex human systems that, intentional or not, create something totally new. Internet linguist (damn!) Gretchen McCulloch explores the ever-changing language of online.”
Elle, 30 Best Books to Read this Summer
“Because Internet is the most up-to-date and comprehensive guide to the way informal internet language has evolved and is evolving. Its historical perspective will illuminate every generation of internet users: oldies will get a clear picture of what young people are up to; younglings will discover the origins of their latest linguistic fashions. Gretchen McCulloch writes with great common sense, an eye for the apt illustration, an appealing sense of humour, and a real concern for explanation. She doesn't just describe language trends: she investigates why they've taken place, and it's her insightful interpretations that give this book its special appeal.”
“McCulloch lays out the ways in which online lingo, from emojis to GIFs to acronyms like 'lol' and 'omg,' has become a vital part of modern communication. It's also an analog window into how the evolution of digital communication mirrors the shifts in word usage that have happened over generations.” —”
Wired, Must-Read Books of Summer
“Part Linguistics 101, part social history of the internet, Because Internet revels in digital language deconstruction, exploring not just the evolving language of online informal…More importantly, she doesn’t just appreciate internet language, she celebrates it.”
“Gretchen McCulloch's Because Internet is not your English teacher's grammar guide—not even close. Self-described internet linguist McCulloch traces how the web has changed the way we communicate—whether through emoji, lowercase letters. or cat memes—and makes a compelling, entertaining argument that this change is good for the English language as a whole.”
“Gretchen McCulloch is the internet’s favorite linguist, and this book is essential reading. Reading her work is like suddenly being able to see the matrix. She explains the hows and the whys of the ways we talk online with the deepest empathy, understanding, and compassion.”
“We know lols, emojis and hashtags are altering our discourse. Linguist McCulloch counts—and revels in—the ways. Give it to your favorite stickler.”