2019 Year in Review

Featuring Because Internet highlights and more internet linguistics

2019 was a very big year for me.

My book about internet language, which I'd been working on since 2014, finally came out into the world! Because Internet hit the New York Times bestseller list and was one of TIME's 100 books of 2019, plus tons of other media.

I wrote two op-eds for the New York Times and continued writing my Resident Linguist column at Wired, and we made two special video episodes of my podcast, Lingthusiasm.

Book: Because Internet

There were over 200 media hits for Because Internet in 2019, at final count. Here are a few highlights:

Short-form Writing

Wired Resident Linguist column:

I also co-wrote an academic article with Lauren Gawne, Emoji as Digital Gestures in the journal Language@Internet [Open Access].

Events, Talks, and Videos

In January, I did a lingwiki Wikipedia editathon and judged the 5 Minute Linguist competition, both at the LSA annual meeting.

In March, I gave a comic talk at the festival of Bad Ad-hoc Hypotheses (BAHfest) about why we should make English spelling more weird and confusing, which you can watch online. Recommended if you like Unicode jokes.

In May, I recorded the Because Internet audiobook! Here's a thread with my linguistic thoughts about the process and an audio sample of me reading the audiobook. 

In July, I went to the LSA Summer Institute in UC Davis, to do a lingwiki Wikipedia editathon focussing on articles about underrepresented languages, a talk about effective communication of linguistics to a general audience, and MC'd the 3 Minute Thesis event. Plus, I had book launch party in Montreal with Argo Bookshop!

In September, I did a book event in Toronto in conversation with Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame), featuring a packed house with many old friends at The Ossington with Flying Booksn. I also went to XOXO fest in Portland, and did two talks about the book in Seattle, with Textio and the Seattle Review of Books and Elliott Bay Books.

In October, I was on a panel about busting language myths through podcasting at Sound Education in Boston. I was also on panels about Using Language for Worldbuilding (moderator) and “What did we say before we said Cool?” at Scintillation, a small speculative fiction convention in Montreal.

I now have a speaking reel! So if you've ever wondered what it's like when I'm giving a talk about internet linguistics, you can now watch a five minute highlights video here!

I collaborated on several Language Files videos with youtuber Tom Scott:

Lingthusiasm Podcast

We celebrated our third year of Lingthusiasm, a podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics which I make with Lauren Gawne. New this year were two video episodes, about gesture and signed languages, so that you can actually see them!

Here are all 24 episodes from 2019:

  1. How languages influence each other - Interview with Hannah Gibson on Swahili, Rangi, and Bantu languages

  2. The verb is the coat rack that the rest of the sentence hangs on

  3. Why do we gesture when we talk? (also a video episode!)

  4. Pop culture in Cook Islands Māori - Interview with Ake Nicholas

  5. You heard about it but I was there - Evidentials

  6. Why spelling is hard - but also hard to change

  7. Emoji are Gesture Because Internet

  8. Putting sounds into syllables is like putting toppings on a burger

  9. Villages, gifs, and children - Interview with Lynn Hou on signed languages in real-world contexts (also a video episode!)

  10. Smell words, both real and invented

  11. Many ways to talk about many things - Plurals, duals, and more

  12. How to rebalance a lopsided conversation

Bonus episodes on Patreon:

  1. Naming people (and especially babies)

  2. How the internet is making English better (liveshow from Melbourne)

  3. Adapting your language to other people

  4. How do radio announcers know how to pronounce all the names? With guest Tiger Webb

  5. Talking with dogs, horses, ravens, dolphins, bees, and other animals

  6. North, left, or towards the sea? With guest Alice Gaby

  7. Words from your family - Familects!

  8. Welcome aboard the metaphor train!

  9. Behind the scenes on Because Internet (Q&A)

  10. Jobs, locations, family, and invention - Surnames

  11. Reading fiction like a linguist

  12. The sounds of sheep, earthquakes, and ice cream - Onomatopoeia

We also made new Lingthusiasm merch, including items with the best esoteric Unicode symbols on themadding socks, mugs, and notebooks in all our prints (IPA, tree diagrams, and esoteric symbols), onesies saying Little Longitudinal Language Acquisition Project, greeting cards that say “thanks” or “congrats” on them in IPA; the pun-tastic “glottal bottle” and liquids for your liquids bottle/mug; and shirts/mugs/bags that say Linguistic “Correctness” is just a lie from Big Grammar to Sell More Grammars. (See photos of all the Lingthusiasm merch here.)

I celebrated my seventh year blogging at All Things Linguistic and wrote a series on Weird Internet Careers.

[Substack says that this full Year in Review post is too long for email, so if you’d like to see the twitter thread and blog post highlights, see the web version here.]

Missed out on previous years? Here are the summary posts from 20132014201520162017, and 2018. If you’d like to get a much shorter monthly highlights newsletter via email, with all sorts of interesting internet linguistics news, you can sign up for that at gretchenmcc.substack.com.

Thanks for coming along,

Gretchen

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