I wrote a very deep-dive article about the growing pains of the new emoji approval process at Unicode for Wired, featuring a graph that I’m very proud of: New emoji are so boring — but they don’t have to be.
If you’ve been unenthused about the emoji of recent years, you’re not alone. A flashlight? A toolbox? A fire extinguisher? A tin can? Who even uses these?
The emoji set to appear on your phone next year are similarly dismal. A screwdriver, a toothbrush, a bell pepper—seriously, what is this, a shopping center? When you think of emoji, you don’t think of a laundry list of random objects. You think of iconic, sometimes weird, expressive faces, like the face with tears of joy, the thinking face, the angry devil, the smiling pile of poo, and the see-no-evil monkey, plus classic symbols like the thumbs-up and the heart. But the latest batch includes just three new faces and one new hand shape, compared with 49 new objects, from a roller skate and a rock to a plunger.
The reason for this slide into irrelevance? The Unicode Consortium—the organization in charge of determining which symbols our devices are supposed to recognize—has increasingly been measuring the wrong thing in the process of approving new emoji.
I also wrote a very short piece for New York Magazine’s Futures issue (print) about memes and cultural references: In the future, we will have meme folklorists.
I now have a speaking reel online! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like when I’m giving a talk about internet linguistics, you can now watch a short demo video, also embedded below. To book me to talk at your conference or company, please see the instructions on my contact page.
I’m very excited to announce that there’s going to be a Crash Course Linguistics minicourse on youtube in 2020! I’m even more excited to say that I’m involved, along with the excellent linguists Lauren Gawne and Jessi Grieser.
I guess we’re heading towards the end of the year, because the “top books of 2019” lists have started to appear, and Because Internet is on some of them!
- TIME 100 Must-Read Books of 2019
- BBC Science Focus: “The 100 Must Reads of 2019”
- An Amazon Best Nonfiction Book of 2019
- BookPage – Best Books of 2019 in the “Lighthearted Nonfiction” category
- Washington Independent Review of Books’s favourite books of 2019
Because Internet also made it to the semifinals of the Goodreads Choice Awards despite not having been in the previous round, because apparently enough people wrote it in! I’m stunned and honoured.
It was our three-year anniversary for Lingthusiasm! A thread of which lingthusiasm episode you might want to start with, and a few choice quotes that people liked: evidentials in Tibetan languages, the French circumflex, and language is an open source project.
The main episode of Lingthusiasm was about the many ways of talking about many things: plurals, duals, and more and the bonus episode was about reading fiction like a linguist and our favourite lingfic book recs. We’ve also been very much enjoying seeing all of the Lingthusiasm merch that people are getting this month, especially the new lingthusiastic socks and BIG GRAMMAR tshirts, and the perennially popular baby onesies.
I updated my FAQ to include a bit about how to get started writing a book, and also started writing a retrospective series on Weird Internet Careers.
- Part I – What is a Weird Internet Career?
- Part II – How I Built a Weird Internet Career as an Internet Linguist
- Part III – How to start a Weird Internet Career
- Part IV – How to make money doing a Weird Internet Career
I love hearing about all your Because Internet gifting plans! (So far, popular giftees include parents and teenagers!)
If you want to get signed/personalized copies of Because Internet, you can order those through Argo Bookshop in Montreal and I’m happy to personalize them to whatever name you like, just indicate it in the “notes” field on checkout! (Signing is free, but shipping is at your own expense.) Argo recommends ordering by December 10 if you want the book to arrive internationally by December 25, if you’re within Canada you can order as late as Dec 12. You can also, of course, get regular non-signed copies of Because Internet everywhere books are sold.
National Print/Top Online:
- Ars Technica – review – 11/4
- The Pudding – mention – 11/4
- Grammarly – mention – 11/5
- Wired – essay – 11/8
- NRC (in Dutch) – feature – 11/12
- Texito – feature – 11/12
- JSTOR Daily – mention – 11/13
- Time – roundup “The 100 Must Reads of 2019” – 11/14
- BBC Science Focus – roundup “The 100 Must Reads of 2019” – 11/14
- New York Times – mention – 11/14
- Mashable – mention – 11/20
- The Washington Post – roundup “50 notable works of nonfiction in 2019” – 11/21
- Bookpage – roundup “50 notable works of nonfiction in 2019” – 11/21
- Washington Independent Review of Books – roundup “51 Favorite Books of 2019” –11/25
- Longreads – excerpt – 11/25
- Lifehacker– mention – 11/26
- Medium’s “One Zero” – mention – 11/28
Newsletters & Podcasts:
- The Content Technologist – mention – 11/7
- Tedium – mention – 11/21
- The Ezra Klein Show – interview – 11/25
- The Hartford Current – roundup “Some new books on language to spread some holiday cheer” – 11/17
- KUER “RadioWest” – interview – 11/28
- Montreal Review of Books – feature – 11/4
- New favourite example of conversational implicature (books)
- The “ok pedant” shirt is real (in several forms!)
- I finally got around to posting the academic book review that I wrote based on this twitter thread, if you would like to see a terrible book about emoji politely eviscerated (like an ant)
- Planet Word, a museum about language which I’m on the advisory board of, is officially opening in May 2020 in Washington, DC
- “Pain Perdu”, a pun-tastic French poster
- How to talk about linguistics at parties and leave people feeling charmed (thread)
- A surprisingly long thread about parchment paper, I guess
- I’m gonna tell my kids this is a wug / I’m telling my kids this is the alphabet
- A thread about how to look up etymologies you’re wondering about
- Flight attendant: Does someone on this flight know the phonetic alphabet?
- Liquids my liquids for
Selected blog posts:
- I updated my long list of recommended pop linguistics books and lingfic
- Linguistics Merch Gift Guide, 2019
- Superlinguo seasonal gift guide 2019
- How to explain linguistics to your friends and family this holiday season, revised and updated
- Linguistics jobs: interview with a software engineer
- The problems with how grammar is taught in grade school (comic)
This month’s featured image is already above, an advance glimpse of the graphics from the planned Linguistics Crash Course!
To get this monthly newsletter in your email, sign up at gretchenmcc.substack.com.