... offers a history of the web, an introduction to linguistics and a survey of the most fascinating research from [McCulloch's] field ... For those well versed in the ways of the web, Because Internet will offer insight into how we are, often unwittingly, signaling our identity through the language we use online each day. For those who aren’t familiar with lolcats, the book can serve as something of a guide. The only audience McCulloch doesn’t cater to are the gripers who believe English is a precious urn to be maintained rather than, as she puts it, a splendidly 'living, moving' thing.
...McCulloch dives deep into the portal, and she returns with a bevy of cutesy sarcastic asides and chatty, linguist-next-door remarks ready-made for readers to repeat at a party. It all amounts to a digestible introduction for those with minimal literacy in internet culture or linguistics ... McCulloch tells us where our current use of language has got us to—her book is 'a snapshot of a particular era and a lens that we can use to look at future changes.' But how it makes us feel, and what it’s doing to us, that may be a story for another language.
...[an] effervescent study of how the digital world is transfiguring English ... Through gifs, emojis, and the playful repurposing of standard punctuation, McCulloch insists, Internet natives are bringing an unprecedented delicacy and nuance to bear on their prose ... McCulloch’s own style is the endearingly nerdy presentation of an educator ... She’s inside the clubhouse, sipping Martinis with Philosoraptor and Doge. All language declares identity, and yet the performative aspect of McCulloch’s writing feels, itself, Internetty—deeply concerned with inclusion and exclusion ... A sense of doubleness, of trade-offs, is what is perhaps lacking from this celebration of Internet style. Yes, emotional precision is more accessible to the digital writer. (Evoking a mix of outrage and self-deprecation is easy when you have caps lock.) But sometimes discipline vivifies thought. Sometimes, to co-opt a modernist principle, difficulty is good. One wonders whether the eggplant emoji, a shorthand for lust, discourages less efficient, but more original, expression: Rachel Cusk’s formal restraint, or the smolder of an Alan Hollinghurst sentence. McCulloch would say it doesn’t. Maybe that’s true. Her book’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.
With Because Internet, [McCullough] has written an incisive and entertaining guidebook of her own ... McCulloch is remarkably good at showing how internet speech has been evolving 'to restore our bodies to our writing,' as certain online conventions have changed over time ... 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 ... Reflecting on these changes in 'expressive typography,' McCulloch is fully celebratory ... She’s immersed in online life, where she sees the future looking emancipatory and bright. 'There’s space, in this glorious linguistic web, for you,' she insists. I hope she’s right lol.
... detailed but light-on-its-feet ... McCulloch is a great popularizer; she avoids the vagueness and condescension that sometimes mar writing about technical topics aimed at nonspecialists. Unsurprisingly, she has incredible control of her own range of expression. Her writing is upbeat and funny without (for the most part) feeling corny. Her neologisms are efficient...And her sentences are precisely evocative ... But what makes her enthusiasm so catching is her linguist’s conviction that all types of speaking (and texting and tweeting) are inherently valuable.
McCulloch writes enthusiastically about how emoji symbolize digital gestures, how chat technologies have changed conversation over time, and how the post–WWII 'golden age' of acronyms led to the emergence of 'social acronyms' like btw, omg, and lol. There’s also a clarifying 'Taxonomy of Internet People,' which marks internet generations based on the services and skills they used when coming online: “Old Internet People” experienced Usenet, forums, and Listservs, for example, whereas 'Full Internet People' came of age with AOL Instant Messenger, MySpace, and blogs. This is an insightful analysis of language and the internet of right now, in-depth yet accessible to any internet generation.
...a lively and wide-ranging new book ... I don't know whether a fluency with McCulloch's 'new rules' of writing gives you a leg up when it comes to mastering the old ones. But if it makes you reflective about the way you use written words, it's a good place to start.
McCulloch isn’t a prescriptivist, and she has no interest in telling her readers that one particular way of using language is more correct than others. Instead, she tracks how people are really communicating right now, and what meaning they are conveying to each other with their particular choice of capitalization style and GIF. What makes Because Internet so compelling is that McCulloch can parse the subconscious choices we all make every day as we type, and explain exactly how we learned to make those choices in the first place.
McCulloch is fascinating on emojis, those tiny digital smiley faces, hearts and flamenco dancers that we add to texts ... McCulloch is convincingly reassuring about teen internet use ... Although the concept of internet linguistics might sound dry, McCulloch takes a sprightly approach. She’s funny as well as informative. Because Internet just might lead you to see the internet, and how you (and your kids) use it, in a whole new way.
McCulloch is doubly suited to this subject, as a scholar and part of the first generation to grow up with social media ... McCulloch shows how even the keysmash — pounding the keyboard when you just can’t even — has been regularized ... The message of Because Internet is that language is correct when sender and receiver understand a message in their shared context. That’s it. It’s social agreement all the way down. There is no ultimate authority, no unambiguously appropriate form, no way an outsider can correctly say other people are doing it wrong ... Through all the linguistic interpretations and contemporary examples, McCulloch builds an argument that the internet isn’t just changing the way we use language, it’s changing the way we think about it ... Language is, as McCulloch puts it, humankind’s largest open-source project; and the internet makes it much easier for all of us to see, and be, contributors.
Although the title suggests that this book takes a prescriptive approach to language, discussing the 'rules' for online communication, the content shows quite the opposite. McCulloch describes a variety of uses of the internet such as ListServs, texting, social media, and memes and explains how language—primarily English, with some examples from other languages—has adapted to each function without judgment ... McCulloch resists exploring internet language as a new phenomenon. Instead, she builds her investigations on older research into sociolinguistic features ... studies are woven into a compelling narrative rich with examples from her own online activities, a healthy dose of humor, and plenty of cat memes. Although it probably will not provide any novel insights for new media linguists, 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.
To [the] 'grumbling' grammarians, the Montreal-based linguist Gretchen McCulloch says: Lighten up lol. In her new book...McCulloch challenges the idea that the rise of informal writing signals a trend toward global idiocy. Instead, she marks it as an inevitable and necessary 'disruption' in the way human beings communicate ... Drawing from her research and that of other linguists, McCulloch shows how creative respellings, expressive punctuation, emoji, memes, and other hallmarks of informal communication online demonstrate a sophistication that can rival even the most elegant writing ... With Because Internet, McCulloch is offering 'a snapshot of a particular moment in time and how we got that way, not a claim to correctness or immortality.' And she calls for humility from those who are fluent in internet language and culture.
...an approachable and scholarly take on how and why successive waves of users, each more comfortable in their internet skins than the last, have developed a more playful and meaningful internet language, using fast-evolving forms of typography, emojis and memes ... Ms. McCulloch draws on sociolinguistic research and engaging anecdotes to show that, often, these changes are not random ... Ms. 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.
Words cannot express the happiness I felt to realize not only was this NOT going to be another one of those primers for Old People about how Young People talk on the internet, but that this book is brilliant, insightful, and funny ... explains what most of us have internalized about internet language but can't explain ourselves ... a beautiful analysis of keyboard mash patterns. I cannot resist a scientific breakdown of things I understand intuitively but not theoretically; this book gave me page after page of beautiful revelations ... If you love a statistical take on which syllables have to be emphasized for something to be funny, or when your typography crosses the line from enthusiasm to sarcasm, Because Internet is for you. Ever wonder why it feels okay to send three eggplant emojis but not to combine one with, say, a corncob and cucumber emoji? McCulloch has you covered ... The author effortlessly brings smart and insightful linguistic analysis to a thoroughly up-to-date understanding of how people write online. At the same time, she doesn’t act like anyone using the internet differently than today's high school students is Doing It Wrong ... McCulloch roots her analyses in accessible discussions of linguistic theories and social science ... a joy to read and will leave you smarter.
[McCulloch's] tone is endearingly nerdy, her accessible ideas the fruit of her academic research and experience of writing the Resident Linguist column for Wired magazine ... helpful if you find yourself baffled by emoji in messages from younger relatives, or have to google acronyms or often deliberate over how to begin an email ... Can internet language be truly 'revolutionary' if it is forged on platforms that are owned by tech companies which, like 18th-century authors of dictionaries, have their own agendas? McCulloch ignores such questions and, at times, there is something coercive about her headlong embrace of the new: if you aren’t, say, one of the 'two million people [who] use emoji every single hour', you’ll be left behind ... These reservations aside, McCulloch offers a compelling snapshot of a world in flux, from which readers will learn a lot about language, the internet and themselves.
... funny and fascinating ... breaks down the structure of 'internet language' in a precise and engaging way. She offers novices a well-structured introduction to modern linguistics, including a history of informal writing and the social implications of language ... Thanks to McCulloch’s skill in explaining both academic and popular subjects, this survey will make an excellent starting point for anyone’s exploration of the topic.
In many instances, the author simply confirms what internet users know: how distinct internet cohorts developed, depending on whether they began socializing online in forums, on blogs, or with Facebook or Instagram; and how older people were slower to engage with the internet and social media ... Purists will flinch at many of McCulloch’s claims for how informal online writing has benefited our language and society while internet nerds will relish her informative book.