BuzzFeed copy chief Emmy J Favilla gives a guide to language in the internet age in her new book.
2. It’s fine to flout the rules when you have a solid understanding of what the rules are and a calculated reason for doing so: for tone, humour, readability.
3. Use anti-gay rather than homophobic; anti-trans rather than transphobic, etc. Phobic implies a fear, something that cannot be helped, and its use can perpetuate stereotypes.
4. To ship means to wish for the coupling up of a (usually fictional) pair. Stan is a superfan and can be noun or verb. LOL has acquired a more subtle meaning, and haha (and variants) are on the rise.
5. A full stop rather than a line break can now turn an innocent phrase into an expression of annoyance or aggression, whether passive or active.
6. One day we’ll be ripping up the pages of our usage manuals in celebration of the breakdown in distinction between lay and lie.
7. The ability to switch instantly between webspeak and formal language is a boon. Every era has had its slang and quirks. You don’t need to accept them as yours, but don’t discount them by default.
A WORLD WITHOUT “WHOM”: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO LANGUAGE IN THE BUZZFEED AGE, by Emmy J Favilla (Bloomsbury, $26.99)
This article was first published in the March 24, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.