Cover image for Language and the Internet
Language and the Internet
Crystal, David, 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
ix, 272 pages ; 23 cm
A linguistic perspective -- The medium of Netspeak -- Finding an identity -- The language of e-mail -- The language of chatgroups -- The language of virtual worlds -- The language of the Web -- The linguistic future of the Internet.
Reading Level:
1410 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library P107 .C78 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



David Crystal investigates the nature of the impact which the Internet is making on language. There is already a widespread popular mythology that the Internet is going to be bad for the future of language - that technospeak will rule, standards be lost, and creativity diminished as globalization imposes sameness. The argument of this book is the reverse: that the Internet is in fact enabling a dramatic expansion to take place in the range and variety of language, and is providing unprecedented opportunities for personal creativity. The Internet has now been around long enough for us to 'take a view' about the way in which it is being shaped by and is shaping language and languages, and there is no-one better placed than David Crystal to take that view. His book is written to be accessible to anyone who has used the Internet and who has an interest in language issues.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In this first book-length consideration of the Internet by a linguist, Crystal, whose Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and over 40 other books have established him as a leading authority on language, begins with the idea that the Internet is not just a technological revolution but a social one as well. The author reasons that language is central to the revolution and explores the role of language in the Internet and the effect of the Internet on language. In four central chapters, he details the significant linguistic features at work in the four major "situations" of the Internet: e-mail, chatgroups (including listservs and discussion groups), virtual worlds, and the web. He concludes that Netspeak (his word for the language of the Internet) is a new medium, "neither spoken language nor written language nor sign language, but a new language dimension computer-mediated language." Crystal sees Netspeak creating huge opportunities for the expansion and enrichment of language. This is only the first snapshot of an amazingly dynamic new field, but it provides some of the groundwork indispensable to future research. Recommended for larger public libraries and all academic collections. Paul D'Alessandro, Portland P.L., ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Crystal (author of Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, CH, Nov'95, and many other books on language) offers here the first book-length study of the role of language in the Internet and the effect of the Internet on language. In contrast to the authors of prescriptive style and usage guides, Crystal attempts to describe the varieties of language usage actually produced in e-mail, synchronous and asynchronous chat groups, and virtual worlds and on the Web. He concludes that "Netspeak" displays features that are unique to the Internet, and that this new mode of communication is fundamentally different from either speech or writing. In each environment, Crystal observes a great deal of variability and creativity (as indeed would be the case in any description of written language). Crystal draws examples from a variety of publications, log files, and his personal interactions; the chapter on virtual worlds relies heavily on Lynn Cherny's Conversation and Community: Chat in a Virtual World (1999). Crystal offers many generalizations but few insights, noting that the elucidation of the variables involved "suggests material for a thousand theses." A useful synthesis for undergraduates and general readers; researchers will want to go directly to the sources. J. Adlington Vanderbilt University

Table of Contents

1 A linguistic perspective
2 The medium of Netspeak
3 Finding an identity
4 The language of e-mail
5 The language of chatgroups
6 The language of virtual worlds
7 The language of the Web
8 The future of the Internet

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