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All booksSocial sciencesBecause Internet
Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch
Social sciences

Because Internet

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Gretchen McCulloch, on your first book!

by Gretchen McCulloch

Quick take

Essential reading for any child of the internet era.

Why I love it

Book of the Month

If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at your dad’s misuse of “tbt” or wondered if your boss was being passive aggressive with her punctuation (again), you need to read Because Internet. Gretchen McCullough’s smart, chatty survey of the linguistic revolution sparked by living our lives increasingly online will have you thinking “I do say that!” more times than you can count.

Part history of language, part linguistic survey, and part ode to the beautiful creativity fostered by the internet, Because Internet is a sweeping appraisal of how the technological and social changes of the past two decades have resulted in an unprecedented disruption of the ways we shape and use language. It’s also an unabashed celebration of language’s innate, thrilling capacity for creativity, innovation, and playfulness—whether you’re living in the age of Shakespeare or the age of Cardi B.

Sound too academic? Because Internet reads the way that cool professor in your freshman survey course talked, with more than its fair share of whoa! moments and snappy fun facts you can bring to your next dinner party. Whether you’re interested in the nuances of LOL versus lol, or you just want to know what your teenager is saying for once, McCullough’s investigation of internet speak won’t disappoint.

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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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Get an early look from the first pages of Because Internet.

Member thoughts

All (391)
All (391)
Love (145)
Like (190)
Dislike (56)
421 ratings
  • 34% Love
  • 45% Like
  • 13% Dislike
  • Colorado Springs, CO

    I'll admit, I'm a bit of a linguistics nerd, but that doesn't change the fact that McCulloch's work is funny and fascinating. Bonus: I now understand some of my students' writing tendencies.

  • Columbia, MO

    Super fun book full of things I already knew that I knew but just had to be explained to me. I used it to write a lecture on the evolution of language in my anthropology class!

  • Somerville, MA

    I love linguistics and I've grown up on the internet, so this was a fun mixture of education and entertainment - learning about the language I learned by accident.

  • San Francisco, CA

    Such a fascinating, well-written, and at times laugh-out-loud explanation of how the internet has changed the English language. A must-read for linguistics lovers!

  • Eagle, ID

    I. Love. This. Book. I had never thought aboit any of these things before and its fascinating to see hpw the internet has influenced the way we speak

  • Lady Lake, FL

    As someone who loves linguistics, this was a fun exploration of why I say the things I say...and why my parents and little brother do as well

  • Lehi, UT

    This book made me want to go back to college and study linguistics! It was so fascinating to learn about language as an evolving medium

  • Tucson, AZ

    This book is brilliant! I use it in my college composition classes and the students love it. Such a cool look into modern language!

  • Franklin, NJ

    As someone who loves technology and the internet, I was enamored with this book. I will be using it as a teacher as well!

  • San Antonio, TX

    I learned so much from this book! I reference it in conversations, too, because it is written with such engaging language.

  • Chassell, MI

    Word nerd. This is my jam, my jelly, and linguistic linguini (too far?). Loved, loved and I go back to it regularly.

  • Beaverton, OR

    A must-read for all linguistics nerds. A study of descriptive linguistics versus prescriptive linguistics.

  • Blacksburg, VA

    This book is such an interesting perspective on linguistics and a really fun and exciting nonfiction read.

  • Mountain View, HI

    Terrific book about language and how it has changed with the internet. I found it completely absorbing.

  • Astoria, NY

    Linguistic-y and relatable with fun facts about internet-speak and how it came to be.

  • Keyport, NJ

    Such an interesting read on why people communicate how they do on the internet.

  • Midland, MI

    As an ESL teacher who works with teens this is a fun and enlightening book.

  • Rockledge, FL

    Fascinating. Explains why everyone texts the way they do

  • henrico, VA

    This is now the book I recommend to everyone!

  • Readyville, TN

    One of the smartest books I’ve ever read.

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