Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

Riverhead. Jul. 2019. 336p. notes. index. ISBN 9780735210936. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780735210950. COMM
Taking a deep dive into Internet culture, Wired columnist McCulloch explores the linguistic evolution of the English language based on online forums, affinity groups, and generations of “internet people.” From the birth of “lol” to the rise of sparkly tildes, ironic punctuation, memes, and more, the author examines changes in norms surrounding capitalization and punctuation and the implications for online communication. McCulloch then traces the history behind these new standards, often drawing comparison to differences in regional English and historical linguistic applications, placing Internet English within the larger framework of English dialects. It’s hard to describe a book on this subject without sounding dry, but this is a fun read for Internet people of all generations as it moves from aLtErNatE lettering and minimalist typography to cat memes and sneks to provide a fascinating look at the development of online English, its roots in early computing, and the ways in which we adapt technology to express emotion.
VERDICT Recommended for web and language nerds alike, encompassing illuminating facts on the origin of acronyms, memes, and digital tone of voice.
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