The internet isn’t the first technology to alter how we communicate, but it is making our language change faster and in more interesting ways than ever before. The programmers behind the apps and platforms we use decide how our conversations are structured, from the grammar of status updates to the protocols of comments and @replies. Linguistically inventive niche online communities spread slang and jargon exponentially faster than in the days when new dialects were constrained by physical space. What’s more, social media provides a fascinating laboratory for watching language evolve in real time.
Even the most absurd-looking slang has genuine patterns behind it. Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch explores the deep forces that shape human language and influence the way we communicate with one another. She explains how the year you first accessed the internet determines how you talk online; how ~sparkly tildes~ became widely recognised as sarcasm punctuation; whether emoji are replacing words; and why internet dialects like doge, lolspeak, and snek are linguistically significant.
Because Internet is the perfect book for anyone who wants to understand how the internet is changing the English language, why that’s a good thing, and what our online interactions reveal about who we are.