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Gretchen McCulloch and Ryan North Discuss Because Internet

  • The Ossington 61 Ossington Avenue Toronto, ON, M6J 2Y9 Canada (map)
Gretchen McCulloch

Gretchen McCulloch

Flying Books and Penguin Random House Canada invite you to join a conversation between Gretchen McCulloch, author of New York Times bestseller Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, and Ryan North, author of How to Invent Everything.

Because Internet is a fascinating exploration of how the internet is changing the English language, why that's a good thing, and what our online interactions reveal about who we are.

Language is humanity's most spectacular open-source project, and the internet is making our language change faster and in more interesting ways than ever before. From the grammar of status updates to the protocols of comments and @replies, the apps and platforms we use shape and influence our online conversations. They also help spread new slang and jargon with incredible speed. And since social media is a vast laboratory of unedited, unfiltered words, we can watch language evolve in real time.

Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch is watching this evolution more closely than anyone, and her fascinating book reveals the deep forces that shape human language and influence the way we communicate with one another. She explains how your first social internet experience influences whether you prefer "LOL" or "lol," why ~sparkly tildes~ became the preferred punctuation to indicate irony, what emoji have in common with physical gestures, what made animal memes like lolcats and doggo so ubiquitous, and so much more.

GRETCHEN McCULLOCH writes the Resident Linguist column at Wired. She has a Master’s in Linguistics from McGill University, runs the blog All Things Linguistic, and cohosts Lingthusiasm, a podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics. She lives in Montreal, and also on the internet.

Ryan North

Ryan North

RYAN NORTH is the writer responsible for the award-winning Dinosaur Comics. His most recent book, How to Invent Everything, is nothing less than a complete cheat sheet for civilization. He lives in Toronto.

Please join us!
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave, Toronto


“Gretchen McCulloch is the internet’s favorite linguist, and this book is essential reading. Reading her work is like suddenly being able to see the matrix.” —Jonny Sun, author of everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too

“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.” —The New York Times

“McCulloch’s book is a good start in guiding readers to consider the wild language of the internet as a thing of wonder — a valuable feature, not a bug.” —The Wall Street Journal

“[An] effervescent study of how the digital world is transfiguring English. . . . [McCulloch’s] almost political thesis — the more voices, the better — rebukes both the élitism of traditional grammar snobs and the cliquishness of, say, Tumblr. It’s a vision of language as one way to make room for one another.” —The New Yorker

“Rather than obsessing about what the internet is doing to language, [Because Internet] largely focuses on what can be learned about language from the internet. . . . McCulloch's book is about the birth of a new medium.” —The Economist

“A well-researched retort to grumpy grammarians who think technology is turning kids into lazy, inarticulate drivelers.” —Time

“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.”