I don’t know exactly when or where, but at some point in the past few years, I stopped putting punctuation at the end of sentences. Why? The internet made me do it
Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch, cohost of Lingthusiasm podcast and the author of the new book Because Internet, explains how the internet changes the rules of language.
There are several Allusionist episodes that go well with this one: The Space Between, about how words got spaces and punctuation; Across the Pond, about how and why British and American Englishes differ, and the role of style guides; Mixed Emojions, about whether emoji could become a universal language, and their medieval precedents; and The Authority, about how dictionaries actually work (ie gathering language as it is used rather than dictating use).
Read Gretchen’s columns for WIRED about internet language.
Lingthuisiasm recently did a video episode all about why we gesture when we talk, and in a few days’ time they’ll release a new (audio) episode about gesture in linguistics, so keep an eye on your podcast feed and lingthusiasm.com for that.
The history of the full stop (AKA period).
The transcript of this episode is at theallusionist.org/new-rules.
I’ve got several events coming up, including a London performance of the new touring show, and a children’s book chat in San Francisco with author and lexicographer Jane Solomon! Find out more at theallusionist.org/events, which I’ll keep updated with every new fixture.
YOUR RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
Gretchen McCulloch is an internet linguist, the cohost of Lingthusiasm podcast and the author of the new book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, which I thoroughly recommend reading: I learned a lot about how online language use influenced what’s happening today, and about gesture and memes and what online writing can do that previous forms couldn’t. Find out more about her work at gretchenmcculloch.com, and follow her on Twitter at @GretchenAMcC.
This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Martin Austwick makes the music that you hear in every episode. Download his songs at palebirdmusic.com and listen to his new podcast Year of the Bird about the songs he writes.
The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.
In July 2019, the Allusionist is sponsored by:
• Squarespace, your one-stop shop for creating and running a good-looking and well-working website. Go to squarespace.com/allusion for a free trial, and use the code ALLUSION to get 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.
• Bombas, socks that won’t let you - or themselves - down. Buy your expertly engineered socks at bombas.com/allusionist and get 20% off your first purchase.
• Progressive. Get your car insurance quote online at progressive.com and see how much you could be saving. Discounts not available in all states and situations.
• Remember Reading, a new family podcast from HarperCollins about classic children’s books. Find it on your podcast apps and at RememberReading.com.