August 2019: UK edition of BECAUSE INTERNET coming in October and So. Much. Media.

There’s going to be an official UK edition of BECAUSE INTERNET! It’ll have a slightly different cover and subtitle, and will be coming out on October 3 in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and everywhere else that typically gets UK editions of books. You can preorder it here in hardback, ebook, and audiobook formats. (As tempting as it sounds, I will NOT be re-recording the entire audiobook in a fake British accent for the UK edition — you’ll have to settle for my actual Canadian one.)

BECAUSE INTERNET hit the New York Times bestseller list for a second week, and through mysterious alchemical forces I acquired a Wikipedia bio page and this nifty Google search box beside my name.

There are, as I learned this month, two different ways that a book can be reviewed by the New York Times. One is through the Daily reviews, which is what happened last month. The other is through the weekend Books section, which is what happened this month with a review by Clay Shirky, who said:

If you are concerned about digital tools dumbing down written English, or leaving young people with lazier syntactic habits, this is definitely not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you are interested in how language actually works (the rules are just collective agreements, constantly renegotiated), and how the internet is changing those rules, it definitely is.

I also wrote an adapted excerpt from BECAUSE INTERNET which appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Here’s a bit of it:

Irony is a linguistic trust fall. When I write or speak with a double meaning, I’m hoping that you’ll be there to catch me by understanding my tone. The risks are high—misdirected irony can gravely injure the conversation—but the rewards are high, too: the sublime joy of feeling purely understood, the comfort of knowing someone’s on your side. No wonder people through the ages kept trying so hard to write it.

Other media highlights: reviews in the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and NPR Fresh Air, being quoted in a New York Times article about the em dash, and interviews on the BBC World News and NPR It’s Been a Minute. (This month’s full, ridiculous, media list below.) Here’s a quote from the Atlantic:

McCulloch shows how creative respellings, expressive punctuation, emoji, memes, and other hallmarks of informal communication online demonstrate a sophistication that can rival even the most elegant writing.

I did a Reddit AMA on the r/Books subreddit and wrote a Big Idea post on Whatever, John Scalzi’s blog, about the quixotic attempt to write a book about the internet. I’ve been reading both things for years so it was exciting to finally be on them!

I collaborated on a second Language Files video with Tom Scott and Molly Ruhl, this time about “no problem” “you’re welcome” and other phatic expressions.

I tweeted my reading of two other new books, This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, and How To by Randall Munroe.

The main Lingthusiasm episode was about how putting sounds into syllables is like putting a burger together (a thread about how we designed this metaphor). The bonus was about metaphors themselves, including metaphors we take for granted and the career of metaphor design. We also ran a Patreon Special Offer to get signed bookplates of BECAUSE INTERNET (which is closed now, but you can still get your name and favourite IPA character on our Lingthusiasm Supporter Wall of Fame).

Here’s the ridiculously long list of all the media I did this month, another 34 items to add to July’s 68. (For those keeping score at home, that makes for 102 media things in July and August alone, which is a bit more than the amount of total media that I’d ever done in the five or so years before that. In other words, that’s a LOT.)

National Radio/TV:

National Print/Top Online:

Newsletters/Blogs:

Podcasts:

Local Radio/TV:

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s photo is a composite of various people’s photos of Because Internet hanging out with other books, thanks to people tagging me in their photos on instagram! It’s been really fun seeing this book I’ve been working on for so long out there in people’s lives!  (Remember to tag @gretchen.mcculloch directly in the photo rather than just in the comment if you want to show up in this view!) because internet instagram tagged grid

Want to follow what’s going on in the world of internet linguistics? You can now sign up for these posts as a monthly newsletter at gretchenmcc.substack.com

June 2019: First finished copy of Because Internet, plus fandom tags on Wired

Because Internet was reviewed in Science Magazine, Real SimpleBooklist, and Library Journal, in addition to last month’s reviews. Here’s what Science Magazine says about it:

A compelling narrative rich with examples from her own online activities, a healthy dose of humor, and plenty of cat memes… the breadth of topics covered—from conversation analysis to meme culture to the development of texting as we now know it—makes this book useful, engaging, and enjoyable.

I did book-related threads about expanding the linguistics bookshelf and the public lending right and how you can order a book you’re excited about from your local public or academic library.

Because Internet is out on July 23rd! That’s just over a week away! Preorders all count towards a book’s first week sales, and the first week is the best chance that a book has of getting on any kind of bestseller list, so if you’re planning on getting it, I’d greatly appreciate if you got it now!

I’m also having a book launch party in Montreal on July 31 — if you’re in the Montreal area, I hope to see you there! You can get free tickets here via Eventbrite.

My latest article for Wired was about the Archive of Our Own and how fans are better than tech at organizing information online. (Plus: a delightful coda.) Excerpt:

On AO3, users can put in whatever tags they want. (Autocomplete is there to help, but they don’t have to use it.) Then behind the scenes, human volunteers look up any new tags that no one else has used before and match them with any applicable existing tags, a process known as tag wrangling.

Wrangling means that you don’t need to know whether the most popular tag for your new fanfic featuring Sherlock Holmes and John Watson is Johnlock or Sherwatson or John/Sherlock or Sherlock/John or Holmes/Watson or anything else. And you definitely don’t need to tag your fic with all of them just in case. Instead, you pick whichever one you like, the tag wranglers do their work behind the scenes, and readers looking for any of these synonyms will still be able to find you.

This month’s main episode of Lingthusiasm was about why spelling is hard — but also hard to change (with a great tweet about the French circonflexe accent and English) and the bonus episode was North, left, or towards the sea — direction words with Alice Gaby (plus a thread about direction words).

I read the first two Murderbot Diaries novellas and livetweeted my linguistic thoughts about them. I also read This Is How You Lose The Time War, which I was not able to livetweet yet since it was still an advance copy, but it was excellent and I strongly recommend it.

I’m featured in Lauren Gawne’s Linguistics Jobs series at Superlinguo, talking about how I became an internet linguist.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s featured image is the first finished copy of Because Internet, which was sent to me in the mail! It looks like a real book! (Just hanging out on one of our Lingthusiasm esoteric symbols scarves, which matches it perfectly.) Front and back photos, because I can’t resist.

Top posts from 7 years of All Things Linguistic

Cross-posted from All Things Linguistic

It’s my seven year blogiversary! Wow! Let’s celebrate by looking back at some of my favourite posts from the past year:

Wired Resident Linguist column

I started a column about internet linguistics at Wired this year! Here are my columns so far:

Internet linguistics

Other linguistics

Things about languages

Memes and humour

Linguistics jobs

Lists and how to

Lingthusiasm

We had another year of Lingthusiasm episodes!

  1. What words sound spiky across languages? Interview with Suzy Styles
  2. This, that, and the other thing – Determiners
  3. When nothing means something
  4. Making books and tools speak Chatino – Interview with Hilaria Cruz
  5. Every word is a real word
  6. Why do C and G come in hard and soft versions? Palatalization
  7. Words for family relationships – Kinship terms
  8. How languages influence each other – Interview with Hannah Gibson on Swahili, Rangi, and Bantu languages
  9. The verb is the coat rack that the rest of the sentence hangs on
  10. Why do we gesture when we talk?
  11. Pop culture in Cook Islands Māori – Interview with Ake Nicholas
  12. You heard about it but I was there – Evidentials

And another year of Lingthusiasm bonus episodes:

  1. Forensic linguistics
  2. Homonyms, homophones, and homographs
  3. Emoji, Gesture, and the International Congress of Linguists – behind the scenes on the linguistics conference circuit
  4. Hyperforeignisms
  5. Bringing up bilingual babies
  6. What’s it really like at academic conferences?
  7. Q&A about old words, ears, Australian English, and more
  8. Naming people (and especially babies)
  9. How the internet is making English better (liveshow from Melbourne)
  10. Adapting your language to other people
  11. How do radio announcers know how to pronounce all the names? With guest Tiger Webb
  12. Talking with dogs, horses, ravens, dolphins, bees, and other animals

We also released more Lingthusiasm merch: scarves with tree diagrams and esoteric symbols on them, all the scarf designs as notebooks and mugsSpace Babies, and linguist baby onesies!

Book: Because Internet

Many exciting announcements related to Because Internet, my book in defence of internet language, happened this year!

  1. The book is heading into copyedits!
  2. BECAUSE INTERNET is available for preorder!
  3. Galleys of BECAUSE INTERNET are arriving with reviewers
  4. An early review of BECAUSE INTERNET (“me reading this was basically galaxy brain”)
  5. Thoughts from reading the audiobook of Because Internet: on pronouncing gif, lol, and keysmash

Because Internet will be coming out on July 23 — that’s only 2 months away! You can make it appear as a delightful surprise for your future self (and signal to the publisher that people are interested in linguistics so they should print lots of copies) by preordering it here.


Haven’t been with me this whole time? You can see my favourite posts of year oneyear twoyear threeyear fouryear five, and year six. For shorter updates, follow me on twitter as a person or as my blog, or for a monthly newsletter with highlights, subscribe at my website.

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”

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

Top posts from 6 years of All Things Linguistic

Cross posted from All Things Linguistic

It’s my six year blogiversary! Wow! Let’s celebrate by looking back at some of my favourite posts from the past year:

Articles and talks

I taught a session on communicating linguistics (LingComm) at Lingstitute, the linguistic summer institute of the LSA. Here’s my course summaries:

Advice and lists

Linguistics jobs

Games

Ambiguity

Things about languages

Language activism

Linguistics baked goods and other handmade items

Memes

Linguist humour

Internet linguistics

Podcast

Lingthusiasm, a podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics, entered its second year! Myself and Lauren Gawne of @superlinguo released the following main episodes this past year:

9. The bridge between words and sentences: Constituency
10. Learning languages linguistically
11. Layers of meaning: Cooperation, humour, and Gricean Maxims
12. Sounds you can’t hear: Babies, accents, and phonemes
13. What Does it Mean to Sound Black? Intonation and Identity Interview with Nicole Holliday
14. Getting into, up for, and down with prepositions
15. Talking and thinking about time
16. Learning parts of words: Morphemes and the wug test
17. Vowel gymnastics
18. Translating the untranslatable
19. Sentences with baggage: Presuppositions
20. Speaking Australian and Canadian English in an American/British binary

We also had a full year of bonus episodes:

4. Doggo linguistics behind the scenes
5, Hypercorrection
6. Language play
7. DIY linguistic research
8. Hark, a liveshow! So, like, what’s up with discourse markers?
9. Is X a sandwich? Solving the word-meaning argument
10. Liveshow Q and eh
11. We are all linguistic geniuses: Interview with Daniel Midgley of Talk the Talk
12. Creating languages for fun and learning
13. The grammar of swearing
14. The Poetry of Memes: Roses are red in the icebox
15. What you should know if you’re considering applying to linguistics grad school

We also released Lingthusiasm merchscarves with a subtle International Phonetic Alphabet or tree diagram print on them, plus various items that say NOT JUDGING YOUR GRAMMAR, JUST ANALYSING IT, Heck Yeah Descriptivism, or Heck Yeah Language Change.

Book

I did a lot of behind the scenes writing on my upcoming book in defense of internet language for Riverhead at Penguin. I wrote an update post about the revision process here.

We’re getting close to the “exciting updates” stage for the book, so if you want to make sure you don’t miss things like the official title and publication date, preorder links, and what the cover looks like, you can sign up to receive very occasional book update emails here.

Haven’t been with me this whole time? You can see my favourite posts of year oneyear twoyear threeyear four, and year five. For shorter updates, follow me on twitter as a person or as All Things Linguistic, or for a monthly newsletter with highlights, subscribe at my website.

May 2018: Babel interview, meme culture, and a teal tree scarf

I did an interview with Babel Magazine about Lingthusiasm with Lauren Gawne for their Meet the Professionals series.

I was also interviewed for an article about How Star Trek: The Next Generation predicted meme culture in Twin Cities Geek.

The main Lingthusiasm episode this month was about speaking Canadian and Australian English and the book the Prodigal Tongue about British and American national varieties of English, and the bonus episode about what you should know if you’re thinking about applying to linguistics grad school. We also announced the artist for art goal, new video episode goals, and posted a quote about the connection between first, second and minute, second.

I did social media for the McGill Symposium on Indigenous Languages: see the Twitter Moment summarizing the livetweeting here.

It was my 6-year blogiversary on All Things Linguistic! Here’s a link roundup of my favourite posts from the past year.

I archived my livetweets of several linguistically interesting books from Storify, since it was shutting down, into Twitter Moments:

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

 

This month’s featured image is the teal tree diagram scarf (prototype version: see the cream scarf for the updated size of the diagrams) hanging out in a yellow forsythia bush.

Maker:S,Date:2017-11-21,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

April 2018: Tree diagram scarves and Prodigal Tongue livetweet

We launched a new round of linguistics-themed merch on Lingthusiasm: scarves with a subtle tree diagram print, and t-shirts and other items that say Heck Yeah Descriptivism and Heck Yeah Language Change. Plus, the IPA scarves in more colours: teal, grey, black, and pale pink. For more pictures and to order.

This month’s Lingthusiasm main episode was about Sentences with baggage: Presuppositions and the bonus episode was about Roses are red and other connections between poems and memes.

I tweeted my way through The Prodigal Tongue: Lynne Murphy’s new book about British vs American English (twitter thread version, blog post version)

I gave a talk at McGill about careers in linguistics: slides.

I put up again my semi-annual call for papers and student work about internet linguistics!

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

Here’s a photo of one of the new tree diagram scarves, in cream, hanging out on a tree. CreamTreeTree10 cropped filtered

February 2018: Archive of A Linguist Explains from The Toast

While The Toast is sorting out their website situation, I’ve archived my Toast articles here as a folder of pdfs. I’ve gotten a couple requests for A Linguist Explains The Rules for Summoning Benedict Cumberbatch and A Linguist Explains The Grammar of Doge especially, so now they’re all available! (Also, apparently The Toast is going to be archived in the Library of Congress now, so that’s cool.)

I was referenced in this post on Boing Boing by Clive Thompson.

Our Lingthusiasm main episode was about vowel gymnastics and the bonus episode was about constructed languages (conlangs). Here’s a thread about people ordering custom coloured scarves, and we also made a teaching page with the episodes sorted by topic. We’ve been hearing from several people using Lingthusiasm in their classes, which is exciting!

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s image is a photo of a restaurant sign that I took in Halifax when I was there in December. Someone involved in this restaurant knows their IPA!

mung restaurant IPA sign