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:

Local Print/Online/Radio:

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

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

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 🥔 to stand for IF and the obscure 15th century Cyrillic symbol multiocular O ꙮ 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 Māori (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 ✨, 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

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”