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

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 2017: NPR doggos & tweetstorms, teaching yourself linguistics, and a circuit wug

I was quoted in two stories for NPR All Tech Considered: the first was an article about the linguistic style of doggo, pupper, and the rest of the dog rates/dogspotting meme and the second was about twitter threads (tweetstorms).

I was also quoted in a TIME article about Easter and a Fansplaining article about fanfiction versus fan fiction.

The audio from my SXSW Word Curation panel is now online, as is the video from the Five Minute Linguist talks that I judged in January.

This month’s Lingthusiasm episode was about how Kids These Days aren’t ruining language, plus a highly-requested bonus episode on our Patreon about how to teach yourself even more linguistics, with our recs for linguistics books, videos, and other resources. We were also featured on Language Log and Linguist List and got a great endorsement from a listener.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s featured image comes from my attempt to draw a wug with an eye that would light up out of a pen that had conductive ink and using my fingers as part of the circuit, from a booth at South by Southwest in March. It was, alas, unsuccessful (they don’t teach circuits at linguist school) and I had to do weird things to the contrast in order to make the silver ink show up in the photo, but it still looks pretty cool.

circuit wug

March 2017: #SXSW Words panel, #ICLDC5 #lingwiki, Princeton talk, Lingthusiasm Patreon

Many talks and travel in March! I began the month in Hawai’i, where I ran several lingwiki editathons at the International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (#icldc5) and also got to attend the Hilo Field Study and learn about Hawaiian language revitalization.

I then headed directly to South by Southwest, where I moderated a panel called Word Curation: Dictionaries, Tech and the Future with Erin McKean (Wordnik), Jane Solomon (Dictionary.com), and Ben Zimmer (Wall Street Journal).  We also stayed in a house together and played word games, and Erin, Jane, and I judged an emoji spelling bee organized by Jenny 8 Lee and other people from EmojiCon.

While the conferences themselves were very different, fortunately the weather in Hawai’i and Texas was very similar – warm and sometimes rainy!

My final talk of the month was at the Princeton linguistics department, where I gave a colloquium talk entitled How I Became An Internet Linguist. I also livetweeted Kory Stamper’s new book, Word by Word, and then got to hang out with her and several other cool lexicography people in NYC on the way to Princeton.

In the meantime, I was quoted in two articles in the New York Times, on Snapchat and phatic communication by Farhad Manjoo and on The communicative function of emoji (Gaymoji) in Grindr by Guy Trebay. The first episode of Lingthusiasm was also featured in NY Mag’s Science of Us and on #SciFriLive (Science Friday on NPR).

The sixth episode of Lingthusiasm came out, about the International Phonetic Alphabet. Listen to the episode on SoundCloud (or wherever you get your podcasts), read the transcript, or check out the links in the shownotes. My cohost Lauren Gawne and I also launched a Patreon to help keep the podcast growing, with a bonus episode about swearing and a video featuring a cameo from our producer.

Selected tweets:

Selected blog posts:

This month’s featured image is from playing word games at the words house at SXSW. This particular game is known as Codenames and it was great fun.

sxsw word game

April 2016: California talks, book rough draft, Idea Channel & Science Friday on emoji

 

I took a trip to California! I gave a keynote address at the 25th annual CSU Fullerton Linguistic Symposium (my slides at bit.ly/explainling-fullerton). A few days later, I went into the offices of Dictionary.com and gave a talk in conversation with Jane Solomon. You can hear an audio excerpt here, where I talk about the idea of an “internet era” of English. (If you want to see some non-linguistic updates  from California, mostly food pics, you can check out my instagram.)

I hit a book milestone: 100k words of a (very rough) draft. You can see a celebratory screencap and read a few thoughts about the writing process. I also made an email mailing list specifically for very occasional book updates, so if you want to make sure you don’t miss any important internet language book news on social media, you can sign up for that here.

I collaborated on an episode of PBS Idea Channel about emoji with Mike Rugnetta:

I was also on NPR with a live interview on Science Friday, talking about the recent study finding that many emoji get misinterpreted, especially 😁, with the study’s lead author Hannah Miller. You can listen to the interview on souncloud.

In other media, I’m quoted in a Daily Dot article about the “snek” meme, a Daily Dot article about dialects of internet communities, and a BBC Future article about why we’re talking differently about the web/internet/cyberspace.

Selected blog posts:

Here’s my favourite tweet of the month:

Photos are from the Last Bookstore in LA, which has an ordinary-looking linguistics section but and then some gorgeous book art. 😍😍😍

Agenda for May: Scotland!