Language and the Internet

Recently read (or better ‘read thru’) David Crystal’s Language and the Internet (originally 2001, updated second version 2006). I’d never picked that one up. It is a good overview of the various aspects of online language use, from creative spellings in chatrooms, via the writing style of bloggers up to influence of spellcheckers, search engines and the language problems surrounding the Semantic Web. It is a survey of the Internet from a linguistic perspective. I find myself generally agreeing with all his points — I take a positive approach to language online as Crystal does.

He writes:

“I do not see the Internet being the death of languages, but the reverse. I view each of the Netspeak situations as an area of huge potential enrichment for individual languages.” p. 275

And his final sentence:

“The arrival of Netspeak is showing us homo loquens at its best.” p. 276

So hmm, I do not have a lot to say about this book. (Except that I find the term Netspeak extremely ugly.) Also because I am more interested in writing style, literature, media theory, and less in language use in e-mail, chats, sms-dialogues and programming.

So I cut-n-paste together just one passage about the importance of blogging. Crystal gives two examples of blogging and describes the spontaneous writing style of a blog post, he writes:

“Here we have examples of a style of writing which has never been seen in public, printed form, outside of literature, and even there it would take an ingenious novelist indeed to capture its innocent spontaneity and unpredictable thematic direction. It is difficult to know how to describe the style, because it falls uneasily between standard and non-standard English. Both extracts illustrate writing which is largely orthodox with respect to the main dimensions that identify standardness — spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but they depart from the norms in various ways. (…) There are several feattures of informal written English which would be eliminated in a copy-edited version of such texts for publication. (…) Before the emergence of standard English, of course, such a style would not have attracted any notice at all. (…) It is a style which was once the norm, for all kinds of writing, but which gradually went out of public use once the standard language was institutionalized in manuals of grammar, punctuation and usage, beginning in the second half of the eighteenth century. It was finally eliminated when publishers developed copy-editing procedures to ensure that their newspapers, magazines, and books conformed to an in-house style. After that point it was virtually impossible to see anything in print which had not been through a standardizing process. (…) And this is why blogging is so significant. Only here do we have the opportunity to see written discourse of sometimes substantial lenght which have had no such editorial interference. It is written language in its most naked form.” p. 244/245

Crystal, David, 2006. Language and the Internet, second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

(This actually begs the question of how different bloggers deal with copy-editing individually. Some do copy-edit (especially the professional journalists), others write-as-if-they-speak and just leave the inconsistencies and errors. I’d say the level of editorial reflectiveness (is this a clear term?) differs enormously. Yet anyone writing will develop some sort of editorial relfectiveness in the long run. If only of the sort where it becomes the conscious decision to leave errors as they are.)


Or as they call it: prss-release, carefully collected RSS-feeds presented as PDF: Might seem a superfluous thing to do at first thought, but it exactly gives those volatile blog-posts an extra ‘substance’. I’d love to have a piece of software that would collect and design my rss-feeds into, well, what one can compare to a magazine… I dearly miss good typography and lay-out in my rss-feeds.

(And yes, I am one of those readers that does tinker with the fonts in the OSX-mailprogram to achieve better readability).

Sonic Acts XII blog

By now halfway the third day of Sonic Acts XII, if you can’t be (t)here, follow the livestreams and the blogs of our team of bloggers:

art,blogging,en,research | February 23, 2008 | 18:40 | comments (0) |

Sonic Acts XII

One of the reasons for not blogging too much is that I’ve been working on Sonic Acts XII The Cinematic Experience. The festival takes place from 21 – 24 February. Most of my time went into editing the book. Yesterday the book was delivered at the Sonic Acts office – I have not even seen it myself (will pick up a copy later today).

The book will be available during the festival, and can also already be ordered online at:

More info on the book and the festival at the Sonic Acts XII site:

Braxton Close-Listening

For all those who (like me) dwnldd all that terrific early Braxton-music from the now defunct Church#9: Close listening & comments, chronologically going through all the Braxton material.

blogging,en,music | November 12, 2007 | 14:33 | comments (0) |

The Long 18th

Collaborative blog about 18th-century literature, with 2 excellent collaborative readings: The critical discussion of The Triumph of Augustan Poetics: English Literary Culture from Butler to Johnson, a book by Blanford Parke, made me almost buy the book immediately…

blogging,en,reading matter,research,ubiscribe | November 9, 2007 | 23:47 | comments (0) |

From the comments to the front

Both Anne Helmond and Micheal Stevenson blogged the talk of Alex Galloway. The urls are in the comments, but it would be a shame if you missed them, so here they are:

blogging,en,software | October 29, 2007 | 20:29 | comments (0) |

Just a thought…

Privacy. Just one of these things that has me thinking a lot. Take for instance the new OV-chipcard (public transport card for the Netherlands). When the system will be operative, your travels are logged and identified. Hardly any public discussion on this. It’s just regarded as ‘handy for the customers”. TLS will own that data – why shouldn’t we get access to it too? We’re past the stage in history, it seems, where we can go back to an absolute notion of privacy. We leave too many traces. It will be about ownership and access to data. “I also own my Google-logs”. We have to start to reimagine our world, radically. A world where all your movements will be out in the open. Not only yours, but everybody’s movements – that of your boss, your friends, the prime-minister. Everybody will be a spook, a spy. Everybody will be surveilled. What will that mean? How would we behave in such a world? It will not be funny. (Or sometimes it might). And the new policy in the United States is not funny either with its “prior government permission” even for citizens of the US, even for domestic flights. Well, anyway.

blogging,en,research | October 24, 2007 | 16:49 | Comments (2) |

Flusser & Cubitt

Flusser Studies

Sean Cubitt’s blog

blogging,en,research | October 18, 2007 | 14:02 | comments (0) |

De fatsoenering van het bestaan

On monday the 8th Harm Nijboer received a wel-deserved Ph.D. for his thesis De fatsoenering van het bestaan, Consumptie in Leeuwarden tijdens de Gouden Eeuw. It’s a very conscise and precise work, just over 120 pages (in Dutch), packed with knowledge. The core is a statistical analysis of probate inventories from the municipal archive of the Frisian city Leeuwarden. From that analysis he formulates critiques, hypotheses and some conclusions about the fashioning process in early modern times.

I read the whole thing on wednesday. Not knowing much about statistics, I cannot assess that part of the thesis, but apparently his methodology is quite radical and new. The chapters about consumption and the historiography of early modern consumption culture, and the chapter in which he theorizes the fashioning process are so thorough (and well written – there’s fun in there too and lots of Shakespeare!) that in the future I will certainly grab this book when I need info on this.

That said, it is a book with many links to interests of mine – like the culture of early modernity and Sentimentality, the time in which new forms of writing were emerging (for instance in The Spectator), and a new relation to publishing.

Plus, of course, the book has a theory which is relevant too for todays ‘bling-bling-culture’, and gives a good insight in the use of credit-papers in the seventeenth that is interesting in relation to todays ‘open money’ and barter-economies).

On a fun level: behind all this work lives the ghost of Lemmie, the bassplayer of Motorhead, Sentimentalism-pure.

Harm can be found here:

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