October 2019: UK edition of Because Internet comes out, Sound Education & Scintillation conferences

The UK edition of Because Internet came out this month! It will also be replacing the US edition in Australia, New Zealand, and other places that typically get UK versions of books. In celebration, I re-recorded a tiny portion of the Because Internet audiobook in a very posh, very fake British accent. You can get the real audiobook, featuring my normal voice, as well as all other versions of Because Internet here (or scroll to the bottom for a comparative photo of the US and UK editions!).

There was also some UK media around the UK publication! I did interviews in The Times (yes, that Times, the Times of London), the Observer/Guardian, BBC Science Focus, the Financial Times. Here’s a quote from my interview in the Guardian:

Like many linguists, I have a difficult time turning the linguistics part of my brain off. If you get me at the pub, I may be trying to listen to what you’re saying and then get distracted by your vowels. So to be interested in the way people talk on the internet is just a natural extension of being interested in how people talk around me on an everyday basis. […]

I think it’s easy to see people doing something different from you, and assume it must be haphazard, random, or they must not know “the right way” to do it. In reality, people are acting for deliberate reasons, and I’m figuring out what those reasons are.

I was on panels at two conferences this month! I did threads about adding linguistics programming to not-explicitly-linguistic conferences and about how making public-facing work leads to interesting opportunities.

Sound Education is a conference about educational podcasts in Boston, and I was on a panel about busting language myths through podcasting.

Scintillation is a small speculative fiction convention in Montreal, which I participated in for the second year now, and I was on panels about Using Language for Worldbuilding (moderator) and “What did we say before we said Cool?”

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was about smell words, both real and invented, and the bonus episode was about surnames. We were also recommended by Buzzfeed (!!), which called Lingthusiasm “joyously nerdy”.

Lingthusiasm also released new merch, including socks with our International Phonetic Alphabet, tree diagram, and esoteric symbols prints; greeting cards that say “thanks” or “congrats” on them in IPA; the pun-tastic “glottal bottle” and liquids for your liquids bottle/mug; and shirts/mugs/bags that say Linguistic “Correctness” is just a lie from Big Grammar to Sell More Grammars. (See photos of the all the Lingthusiasm merch here.)

I got inspired by the “ok boomer” shirts that have been going around to make “ok pedant” shirts (and people have actually bought them!)

Finally, but perhaps most excitingly, someone dressed up as my book for Halloween! I am ded.

Long list of all media from this month:

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Local Radio/TV:

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This month’s photo is of the new UK edition of Because Internet (left) hanging out with the US edition (right) and a small stuffed wug.

because internet US vs UK editions and wug

September 2019: Book events in Toronto and Seattle, XOXO in Portland, and New York Times Op-Ed From the Future

I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (my first time writing there instead of being quoted!), from the perspective of 200 years in the future when people have nostalgia for the good old days of quaint emoji. Here’s one part that I liked (longer excerpt here).

The early 21st century was also a golden era for linguistic innovation related to using indirect constructed dialogue to convey actions and mental states. In speech, this era saw the rise of “be like” and in writing, the “me:” and *does something* conventions. (And I’m like, how did people even communicate their internal monologues without these?? also me: *shakes head* yeah I have no idea.)

We now take these linguistic resources for granted, but at the time they represented a significant advancement in modeling complex emotions and other internal conditions on behalf of oneself and other people. Imagine being limited to the previous generation of dialogue tags, which attempted to slice everything into sharp distinctions between “said,” “felt” and “thought.”

I was very proud that this op-ed got me no fewer than five (5!) entries in New New York Times, a twitter account that tracks words that appear in the New York Times for the first time. (Also, which unhyphenated compound word from the early 23rd century are you?)

I also did quite a lot of travel!

Torontobook event in conversation with Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame), featuring a packed house with many old friends at The Ossington with Flying Booksn.

PortlandXOXO fest where I held a language meetup for the second time, introducing people to the excellent word game called Contact, left some signed copies at Powells, and gave many Because Internet stickers to people!

Seattle – two talks about the book, one internally for Textio in the afternoon, and one in the evening for the public with the Seattle Review of Books and Elliott Bay Books.

The third Language Files video in my recent collaboration with Tom Scott and Molly Ruhl went up, this time about the language sounds that could exist, but don’t (the forbidden grey boxes of the International Phonetic Alphabet).

The main episode of Lingthusiasm was a bilingual video episode interviewing linguist Dr Lynn Hou about her research on signed languages in natural contexts, including ASL on youtube and Chatino Sign Language, in ASL and English. The bonus episode was a behind-the-scenes look at the writing process for Because Internet. Watch the video episode here:

My keynote talk about internet linguistics at the CoEDL Summer School in Canberra, Australia last year went online. I also switched this monthly newsletter from Mailchimp to Substack (existing subscribers were already migrated, and you can still view it online at gretchenmcculloch.com/news, but if you’d like to get an email when I write a new post like this, you can sign up here).

I spent a week at a friend’s cottage by a lake for a much-needed respite, where I wasn’t on the internet much but did enjoy JY Yang’s Tensorate series :)

Long list of media from this month:

Radio/TV:

National Print/Top Online:

Newsletters & Blogs:

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Here’s a photo of me and Ryan North just before our event in Toronto, featuring the really excellent sign based on Because Internet that The Ossington made for us!

because internet event ossington toronto gretchen mcculloch ryan north.jpg

July 2019: Because Internet is published and makes the NYT Bestseller list!

There was a New York Times Daily review of Because Internet (paper version!). Here’s one of the very nice things that reviewer Jennifer Szalai had to say about it:

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.

There was also SO MUCH other media about the book, including reviews in Time, the Economist, The New Yorker, and more; excerpts or interviews in Wired, Slate, Vox, Salon, Vice, and more; and interviews on NPR All Things Considered and Science Friday, Slate’s Lexicon Valley, Grammar Girl, The Allusionist and the Cracked Podcast, just to pick a few. (Full list with hyperlinks below.) A great little ad also ran next to the NYT crossword puzzle in the print edition (photo).

As if that weren’t enough, Because Internet also hit the New York Times bestseller list at #9 in its first week! Huge, huge thanks to everyone who preordered it and bought it during the first week which made this happen.

I did a book launch party in Montreal with Argo Bookshop at the Atwater Library! I was especially excited about the cake with the cover of my book on it which allowed me to literally eat my words and the internet-themed youtube playlist that twitter helped us put together to project on a screen during the party. Many thanks to all the people who attended!

I did a collaboration with youtuber Tom Scott! The first video in this new round of Language Files videos is “why typing like this is sometimes okay.” and is directly based on Chapter 4 of Because Internet! Stay tuned for more Language Files videos with Tom and our new collaborator Molly Ruhl in future months.

Everything is also coming up Because Internet on Lingthusiasm! Our main episode was about the connections between gesture and emoji, aka the behind the scenes story of the part of the book where my podcast cohost Lauren Gawne makes a cameo! The bonus episode was about familects, not the book, but we also released a Special Offer on Patreon to get signed bookplate stickers. Our academic paper about emoji as digital gesture in the journal Language@Internet also came out this month, and Lauren wrote an accessible summary version of it for The Conversation which got picked up by Quartz. (We were very pleased to have to disclose that our Lingthusiasm patrons helped fund this research.) Also, I now have an Erdős number.

When people ask what it’s like to have this book I’ve been working on for five years finally come out, the best analogy that I can think of is that it’s like having it constantly be my birthday for the past several weeks: I’ve been hearing from so many people from all corners of my life who are excited to have spotted BECAUSE INTERNET in their local bookstore or library, or to have heard me on the radio or their favourite podcast. I haven’t always been able to reply to everyone individually, but I truly appreciate how many communities have claimed this book’s success as their own.

In non-book-related news, I also went to California to do a linguistics outreach event at the LSA Summer Institute in UC Davis, consisting of a lingwiki Wikipedia editathon focussing on articles about underrepresented languages in the afternoon, and in the evening doing a talk about effective communication of linguistics to a general audience and MCing the 3 Minute Thesis event. (A thread from an interesting talk I attended on language tech.)

Here is the truly staggering media list just for July alone for Because Internet, all 65 (!) items:

National Radio

National Print/Top Online

Newsletters:

Podcasts:

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This month’s photo is real paper proof that Because Internet made the New York Times Bestseller list! because internet nyt bestseller list with emoji.jpg

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

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) bilingualismlinguistics 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 scarvesrainbow IPA scarvesSpace Baby art, and IPA ties.

We released 12 main episodes and 12 bonus episodes:

16. Learning parts of words –  Morphemes and the wug test
17. Vowel Gymnastics
18. Translating the untranslatable
19. Sentences with baggage – Presuppositions
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 – determiners
23. When Nothing Means Something
24. Making books and tools speak Chatino – Interview 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 – Interview 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:

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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