News

April 2019: Coding in English and new Because Internet cover photos

My latest article for Wired is: Coding is for everyone — as long as you speak English. (I also made a Glitch remix of the first website¬†for it). Here’s a quote from the article:

In theory, you can make a programming language out of any symbols. The computer doesn’t care. The computer is already running an invisible program (a compiler) to translate your IF orinto the 1s and 0s that it functions in, and it would function just as effectively if we used a potato emoji ūü•Ē to stand for IF and the obscure 15th century Cyrillic symbol¬†multiocular O¬†Íôģ to stand for. The fact that programming languages often resemble English words like¬†body¬†or¬†if¬†is a convenient accommodation for our puny human meatbrains, which are much better at remembering commands that look like words we already know.

But only some of us already know the words of these commands: those of us who speak English.

This month’s Lingthusiasm main episode was an interview with Ake Nicholas about making pop culture resources to get kids excited about Cook Islands MńĀori¬†(transcript), and the bonus episode was about how radio announcers know how to pronounce all the names (an interview with Tiger Webb from our Sydney liveshow).

In news about my book, an early review of Because Internet said that “me reading this was basically galaxy brain”¬†(<3) and I¬†was quoted in this article in The Cut, talking about the importance of linguistic styleshifting.

I started¬†getting ready to record the Because Internet audiobook¬†(which I’m doing myself!),¬†updated my cover photo to include the book¬†and got an idea for how to sign people’s copies.¬†I also compiled my best memes and behind-the-scenes bits about Because Internet so far into a convenient twitter moment.

In other books (specifically lingfic), I tweeted assorted thoughts about the linguistic worldbuilding in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and its sequels (thread).

Somehow I got namechecked in the hovertext of an SMBC comic, so that’s a lifegoal accomplished that I never knew I had.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s image is one of my fancy new social media cover photos featuring Because Internet!

BecauseInternet_FacebookCover_cropped

March 2019: Gesture video for Lingthusiasm, #BAHfest, and BECAUSE INTERNET in the mail

I gave a humorous speech at the Bad Ad-hoc Hypothesis fest (BAHfest MIT) about the very logical (!) reasons to make English spelling less logical. I’m told that there will be video eventually — for now, my slides are here.

This month’s Lingthusiasm episode was about why we gesture when we talk, and we also made it available as our very first video episode so you can see the gestures! Many thanks to our Patreon supporters who enabled us to experiment with video! The bonus episode was Do you adjust the way you talk to match other people? Linguistic Accommodation with special guest our producer Claire Gawne.

I was quoted in articles about the xx email signoff in the New York Times, about the origin of the word “emoji” in Science Friday (NPR), and about business speak and corporate jargon for the BBC.

I was a guest on Spirits Podcast, a boozy podcast about myths and legends, talking about names and folklore! I also judged A Word A Day’s 25th anniversary pangram contest¬†(the winner? “Emoji having been popularized, texts acquire wacky faces.”)

I livetweeted my thoughts on The Raven Tower, a new novel by Ann Leckie that has many cool linguistic worldbuilding elements!

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is of an advance copy of BECAUSE INTERNET arriving at reviewers, along with a printed-out tweet on the package!

because internet with envelope tweet

February 2019: Predictive text meme in Wired and galleys of Because Internet

My latest Wired article is about the appeal of the predictive text meme: we’ve gone from Damn You Autocorrect to treating the strip of three predicted words as a sort of wacky but charming oracle. Plus: I’ve officially got a Wired author sketch¬†now!

I was also quoted in the Huffington Post about how we use okay vs ok vs k in workplace communication and profiled in Stylist France magazine (print, in French).

In Because Internet news, I tweeted some novelty brand twitter accounts about my book, and some of them actually replied! I also made an emoji version of the Because Internet cover ‚ú®, and there’s now a Goodreads page for Because Internet and for me as an author, if you’d like to register your interest in structured data format!

The latest Lingthusiasm main episode was about a new metaphor for verbs and sentences: the verb is the coat rack which the rest of the sentence hangs on¬†(transcript). I also did a lingcomm meta thread about how we go about making a “technical topic explained in a nontechnical way” episode like this. The bonus episode was about how the internet is making English better¬†— it’s a live recording from our Melbourne show, so you can feel like you’re in a friendly group of lingthusiasts from the comfort of your own couch!

I also updated my website, including a shiny new theme, a more detailed page for the book, a bio page, and an updated contact page.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is of a bound galley copy of BECAUSE INTERNET — the first time I got to see my book looking like a real book! The inside still has some minor typos and other revisions, but this is the version that will be sent out to reviewers so that reviews can come out at the same time as the book in July.

because internet galley in front of a plant.jpg

January 2019: Emoji kids, book cards, and #LSA2019

I wrote an article for Wired about preliterate kids texting with emoji. Plus, some bonus adorable examples that didn’t fit in the article.

I wrote an update post about how my book on internet language is going! The book now has a publicist, Shailyn Tavella and you can email her at stavella@prh.com for questions about review copies and interviews.

I also dropped by the fancy new Riverhead office in the Penguin building, made a few comments about Unicode and capitalization, and did a late-stage book editing pass involving reading the whole book out loud to myself which made me feel like David Attenborough.

At the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (this year in New York City), I judged the 5 Minute Linguist competition (video of all the talks here) and did a lingwiki Wikipedia editathon with a focus on underrepresented language articles for the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages. Threads from the LSA about bimodal (signed/spoken) bilingualism, linguistics high school teachers, and the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages (kickoff events).

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was an interview with Hannah Gibson about language contact and Bantu languages, and the bonus episode was about naming people (and especially babies). Plus: when I found out that my cohost was embarking on a new longitudinal language acquisition project, there was only one gift I could give her.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s image is the stack of cards with my book’s cover on them that I got from my publisher to give out at the LSA. If you see me at a conference between now and when BECAUSE INTERNET is out, I’m happy to give you one too! Or stop by Argo Bookshop if you’re in Montreal to get a card and/or preorder a signed copy.

because internet book cards.jpg

2018 Year in Review

Cross-posted from my blog, All Things Linguistic. 

In 2018, I finished writing my book about internet language, which now has an official title (BECAUSE INTERNET) and publication date (July 23, 2019). You can preorder it here now and it will arrive as a delightful present from yourself halfway through the year!

I also started writing a column for Wired about internet language and went to Australia to do two Lingthusiasm liveshows.

Writing

My book about internet language officially has a title and publication date! Look for BECAUSE INTERNET: UNDERSTANDING THE NEW RULES OF LANGUAGE in July 2019, and you can also put your email address here to make sure you don’t miss when it’s out on social media.

I also began a column about internet language for Wired. My first two articles:

Lingthusiasm Podcast

For Lingthusiasm, my podcast with Lauren Gawne, we did our long-anticipated liveshows in Sydney and Melbourne! We also released new Lingthusiasm merch, including tree diagram scarves, rainbow IPA scarves, Space Baby art, and IPA ties.

We released 12 main episodes and 12 bonus episodes:

16. Learning parts of words Р Morphemes and the wug test
17. Vowel Gymnastics
18. Translating the untranslatable
19. Sentences with baggage РPresuppositions
20. Speaking Canadian and Australian English in a British-American binary
21. What words sound spiky across languages? Interview with Suzy Styles
22. This, that and the other thing Рdeterminers
23. When Nothing Means Something
24. Making books and tools speak Chatino РInterview with Hilaria Cruz
25. Every word is a real word
26.  Why C and G come in hard and soft versions, and more about palatal sounds
27. Words for family relationships: kinship terms

Bonus episodes:

11. We are all linguistic geniuses РInterview with Daniel Midgley
12. Creating languages for fun and learning
13. The grammar of swearing
14. The poetry of memes
15. Linguistics grad school advice
16. Forensic Linguistics
17. Homophones, homonyms, and homographs
18. Emoji, Gesture and The International Congress of Linguists
19. Hyperforeignisms
20. Bringing up bilingual babies
21. What’s it really like at academic conferences?
22. Q&A (with bonus video!) about the shape of your ears, very old words, and more

Media

A few select media articles:

I also started a personal/professional instagram account, and started updating the accounts for All Things Linguistic and Lingthusiasm more frequently: go check those out if your instagram feed needs more linguistics in it.

You can also follow All Things Linguistic on Mastodon for a daily linguistics post there.

Talks and conferences

I gave a talk about emoji as gesture at EmojiCon in Brooklyn and about emoji sequences as beat gestures at Emoji2018 at Stanford.

I went to a broad range of interesting conferences this year: XOXO, PatreCon, LangFest, Scintillation, Automatic Speech Recognition for Endangered Languages (ASREL retreat), McGill Symposium on Indigenous Languages, and the annual meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR).

While in Australia, I gave workshops on LingComm at the annual meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society and at the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language summer school, in addition to a sold-out public lecture on internet linguistics at the summer school. I also gave talks about emoji as gesture at four universities: Sydney, Melbourne, Monash, and La Trobe.

At the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, I organized a panel called Language in the Public Ear: Linguistics Outreach via Podcasts and Radio, for which my cohost Lauren Gawne represented Lingthusiasm. I also organized the linguistics Wikipedia editathon with Lauren Collister, and stepped in at the last minute to co-host the Five Minute Linguist competition with Lane Greene of the Economist, in addition to our previously scheduled judging, due to weather issues.

Selected blog posts

I hit my 6-year blogiversary! Here are a few of my favourite posts from 2018:

Continue reading “2018 Year in Review”

December 2018: BECAUSE INTERNET preorders, Adelaide, Spain, and the most phonetic restaurant name

The preorder link for my book went up this month! You can now preorder Because Internet as a delightful surprise for your future self and to let the publisher know that people are interested in internet linguistics, either online by following the links here or by contacting your local indie bookstore. (Want a hint of what’s inside?¬†Today in Things I Tell My Copyeditor: “stet, this is a Unicode joke”)

The Lingthusiasm main episode was about words for family relationships, or kinship terms, and the bonus episode was a behind the scenes Q&A episode where we answered your questions about the shape of the ear, very old words, and more. (The Q&A is also available as a special video episode for patrons!)

I finished my trip to Australia with a visit to Adelaide for the annual meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society, where I did a workshop on linguistics communication (#lingcomm).

I then ended the year in Spain!

I started a personal/professional instagram account, so if your instagram feed needs more linguistics in it, you can now follow @gretchen.mcculloch there.

I posted my year in review blog post on All Things Linguistic (and a tongue-in-cheek year in review tweet).

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is from Adelaide, where a group of linguists naturally chose to have dinner at the restaurant with the most, er, phonetic name.

phonatic restaurant adelaide

 

November 2018: Book title (BECAUSE INTERNET), Lingthusiasm liveshows, PatreCon, CoEDL, and more Australia talks

My book about internet language officially has a title and publication date! Look for BECAUSE INTERNET: UNDERSTANDING THE NEW RULES OF LANGUAGE in July 2019, and you can put your email address here if you want to get a link when it’s available.

My second Wired column went up: Why do some mid-sized languages, like Swedish, have extensive internet resources, while others with the same or larger speaker populations do not?

I’ve spent most of this month in Australia! (I did stop by PatreCon, a conference for Patreon creators, on my way.) Here’s a thread of linguistic reflections on being a Canadian in Australia.

We did our long-anticipated Lingthusiasm liveshows in Sydney and Melbourne! It was amazing to meet so many old and new fans of the show and compare notes on Australianisms, Canadianisms, and how people talk on the internet. The liveshow recording will be up in a few months for the rest of the world.

The main Lingthusiasm episode was about why C and G come in hard and soft versions, and more about palatal sounds, and the bonus episode was an inside view into academic conferences and how to have a good time at them. The Lingthusiasm merch is now finalized for the season, so you can order it for the holidays with confidence!

I also went to Canberra for the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL) Summer School, where I gave a public lecture on internet linguistics and taught a class on linguistics communication (see course notes and readings on the @LingComm twitter account). A few tweets from talks, plus threads about the Linguistics Roadshow and linguistics escape rooms.

I also did talks at University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, and Monash University, and radio interviews on ABC Melbourne and ABC Canberra.

I also did a short thread about An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is a shot of the table where Lauren Gawne and I¬†were preparing for the Lingthusiasm liveshow, complete with Real Australian Flat Whites! table lingthusiasm liveshow prep flat whites melbourne.jpg

October 2018: Wired Resident Linguist, Scintillation, #AoIR2018, and Lingthusiasm’s second anniversary

I’ve started writing a Resident Linguist column for Wired!¬†My first article is about¬†Voldemorting, birdsite, The Cheeto, and other ways of hiding words in plain sight online.

I was in this video on NBC about teen slang¬†and this article about “ish” in work emails.

I attended Scintillation, where I was on panels about linguistic worldbuilding and the future of English in science fiction, and the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conferences, both in Montreal.

The Lingthusiasm main episode was about how Every word is a real word and the bonus episode was about bringing up bilingual babies. (Lingthusiasm is now also officially on Spotify.)

It’s our second anniversary of Lingthusiasm! To celebrate, we’re trying to help the show reach more people by encouraging current listeners to give us a shoutout on social media. Here’s a helpful roundup post with links to all the current episodes that you can share, and we’ll thank everyone who recommends us in a special anniversary post!

I livetweeted the linguistics bits from the new book HOW TO INVENT EVERYTHING as well as a short thread about linguistics aspects of Salt Fat Acid Heat.

Many great linguistics Halloween costumes.

At the end of the month, I head to PatreCon and Australia! Here’s my Australia conferences and talks schedule.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s image is the new Space Baby art from Lingthusiasm, which is available as a poster, art print, scarf, stickers and more!

space babies bookshelfie

September 2018: #XOXOfest, copyedits, Space Babies, and a stuffed wuglet

I started the month at XOXO,¬†an experimental festival for independent artists and creators who work on the internet. I’ve been hearing about XOXO for years now, and it was amazing to finally get to go! I ran a¬†language meetup¬†there, which filled the whole empty midafternoon restaurant we had it in (massive thanks to everyone who came!), and got to hang out with¬†old friends, internet friends who felt like old friends but I’d actually never met before irl, and new friends! Here are a couple tweet-shaped highlights:¬†on getting more poets into AI, on making an impact, on interwoven narrative structure, on an emoji-fueled Barrett’s Privateers singalong, and¬†art of both the human and the generated kind.)

I then spent most of the rest of the month working on copyedits for my book on internet language!¬†Still not much to say officially, but here’s…a…tantalizing…hint…¬†and here’s a thread about my favourite copyediting word, stet.

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was an interview with Dr Hilaria Cruz about Making books and tools speak Chatino (transcript) and the bonus episode was about words that are kinda-sorta English and kinda-sorta belonging to other languages, aka hyperforeignisms.

We also released the official Space Babies art which we commissioned based on a popular moment in a couple early episodes of Lingthusiasm, about the languages of space. Honestly just go look it it, it’s so cute! (It’s available in physical form as an art board, stickers, shirts, phone cases, and scarves.) Plus a few more new merch items, like baby onesies that say NOT JUDGING YOUR GRAMMAR, JUST ACQUIRING IT (to go with the existing merch for grownups that says NOT JUDGING YOUR GRAMMAR, JUST ANALYSING IT), more colours of IPA scarves, and by popular demand, IPA ties!

Tickets are now on sale for the Lingthusiasm liveshow in Melbourne on Friday, 16th November 2018 at 6:30pm plus a second liveshow in Sydney on Monday, 12th November 2018 at 8pm. Both shows are going to be about how the internet is making English better, and include a patron meetup before each show and general meetup/hanging out time afterwards. I’m so excited to meet everyone!

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s image is my new art from XOXO! Two bot-generated scarves in the background by Kate Compton, sunset postcards by Lucy Bellwood, and a stuffed wuglet I commissioned from Becky Margraf.

stuffed wuglet and art

August 2018: #LangFest18, Instagram, and Mastodon

I attended LangFest in Montreal, a conference for polyglots and language fans. See my livetweets from #LangFest18 here.

I was on KPCC AirTalk (LA’s NPR affiliate) talking about the exclamation point in text messaging.

The Lingthusiasm main episode was about When nothing means something (transcript) and the bonus episode was a behind the scenes look at several recent conferences: emoji, gesture, and the International Congress of Linguists.

I started fact-checking a book about emoji and the book was so hilaribad it turned into a thread-review (blog post summary).

I’ve started updating the instagram for All Things Linguistic more regularly! Go check it out if your instagram feed needs more interesting linguistics posts in it.

I’m also experimenting with Mastodon. You can follow me here as a person, or here for a daily linguistics post from All Things Linguistic.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is from July, when I was in Boston and paid a trip to the linguistics section of the MIT libraries.¬†linguistics section MIT libraries bookshelfie.jpg