why typing like this is sometimes okay.

  • Published on Jul 15, 2019
  • Language changes over time, and that's fine. Time for a dose of descriptivism, as the Language Files return. Pull down the description for the references! MORE LANGUAGE FILES: tvclip.biz/p/PL96C35uN7xGLDEnHuhD7CTZES3KXFnwm0
    Written with Gretchen McCulloch and Molly Ruhl. Gretchen's new book, BECAUSE INTERNET, is available soon:
    🇺🇸 US: amzn.to/30tLpjT
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    🇬🇧 UK: amzn.to/32epYoK
    (Those are affiliate links that give a commission to me or Gretchen, depending on country!)
    Gretchen can be found at lingthusiasm.com/
    Labov, W. (1972) Some principles of linguistics methodology. Language and Society 1(1): 97-120.
    Bucholtz, M. & Hall, K. (2005) Identity and interaction: A sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse Studies. vol. 7 (4-2): 585-614.
    Biber, D. & Finegan, E. (1994). Sociolinguistic Perspectives on Register. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Soffer, O. (2012). Liquid language? on the personalization of discourse in the digital era. New Media & Society, 14(7), 1092-1110.
    Bourlai, E., & Herring, S. C. (2014). Multimodal communication on tumblr: I have so many feels! Proceedings of the 2014 ACM Conference on Web Science - WebSci '14. doi:10.1145/2615569.2615697
    Lawson, A., Ferrer, L., Wang, W., & Murray, J. (2015). Detection of demographics and identity in spontaneous speech and writing. In
    A. K. Baughman, J. Gao, J. Pan, & V. A. Petrushin (Eds.), Multimedia Data Mining and Analytics (Vol. 3, pp. 205-225). Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-14998-1_9
    Mckee, H. (2002). “YOUR VIEWS SHOWED TRUE IGNORANCE!!!”: (Mis)Communication in an online interracial discussion forum. Computers and Composition, 19(4), 411-434.
    Danet, B. (2013). Flaming and linguistic impoliteness on a listserv. In S. C. Herring, D. Stein, & T. Virtanen (Eds.), Pragmatics of Computer-Mediated Communication (Vol. 9, Handbook of Pragmatics, pp. 639-664). Walter de Gruyter
    McCulloch, G. (2019). Because internet. New York: Riverhead Books.
    Milne, A. A. & Shepard, E. (1926). Winnie-the-Pooh. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co.
    Urabnik, C. L. (2013). Adjacent character repetition: Orthographic Pragmatics in Computer-Mediated Discourse. (Master’s Thesis) San Francisco State University.
    Gunrajm D.N., Drumm-Hewitt, A.M., Dashow, E.M., Upadhyay, S.S.N., Klin, C.M. (2015). Texting insincerely: The role of the period in text messaging. Computers in Human Behavior 55(B). (pp 1067-1075). doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.003
    Gonzalez-Lloret, M. (2011). Conversation analysis of computer-mediated communication. CALICO Journal, 28(2), 308-325.
    I'm at tomscott.com
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    and on Instagram as tomscottgo

Comments • 3 541

  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott  Month ago +7461

    It has been four years since I made a language video. (And more years than that since I graduated from my linguistics degree.) Well: they're back! Three videos spread over the next few weeks, written with a great team. If you haven't seen the earlier ones, have a look at the full playlist!

    • Razor M
      Razor M 11 days ago

      no capital letters, me too

    • pmailkeey
      pmailkeey 17 days ago

      You got a linguistics degree ?
      I ain't got a linguistics degree.

      So how come you started a sentence with a conjunction ('And') - and
      I noticed it ?

      If you want to have fun in the typing pool, type at a fixed rate. It'll drive the others crazy in no time.

    • carrstone01
      carrstone01 17 days ago

      Written communication is not, primarily, a tool for the author to express himself. What matters is whether the message is understood by the reader and for that the writer must have language and composition skills acceptable to the reader - misunderstandings are the fault of the writer, not the reader.

    • Artie person guy
      Artie person guy 29 days ago


    • blacksmith67
      blacksmith67 Month ago +1

      okay, I’m old... why exactly do I use ellipses?

  • Mike Bender
    Mike Bender 13 hours ago

    Great video! I'm currently listening to the audiobook version of Because Internet, and I came to TVclip specifically to find this kind of guidance. I'm a 50-something guy working with a lot of younger people who are put off by my texting punctuation--but I'm trying!

  • phil smith
    phil smith Day ago

    Most neologisms and quirks slip past intuitively but misplaced apostrophes stop me dead every time!

  • M
    M Day ago

    i ttx lik dis xuz ima genius

  • Patrick McAsey
    Patrick McAsey 3 days ago

    Somewhere towards the beginning of this video you use the phrase 'because it easier to read' as if it were incidental to writing using punctuation and upper and lower case. But you can't just dismiss this reason as if it were a mere incidental. The _point_ of punctuation is not to measure degree of formality but to make writing easier to read. The use of this convention gives a writing 'shape' and thus makes it possible to read it very quickly. If you have to read text which is all upper case or all lower case then I guarantee that you will read it more slowly than normal text. Why should a selfish writer - who does this usually because they can't be bothered - inflict this on their reader? I think it's discourteous. I am sorry, but if I see a piece either in all upper or all lower case writing or without punctuation - _or both_ - then I am left with the clear impression that the writer is not completely literate. Sometimes it's so bad that it's just about impossible to figure out what the writer is trying to say. This is discourteous to the reader, and is a sign of ignorance on the part of the writer. You can't just class this as a variety of tone or register.

    • powerLien
      powerLien 11 hours ago

      "You can't just class this as a variety of tone or register."

      Why not? That's how people are using it. This analysis is not prescriptivist, it's not telling you how to write on the internet. It's descriptivist, it's telling you how some people are doing it right now at this very moment. Whether you like it or not, that doesn't change the fact that people are appropriating bits of usual writing conventions for other purposes.

      We live in a hyperliterate society. More communication is being done over text than ever before, and people are changing how we use text to better present their voice; in a way, text is moving closer to speech in order to match it better. Ex: typing like this doesn't indicate shouting very well, even if you put an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence (which can indicate several different registers and tones of voice, including shouting), so you can at least make it less ambiguous by TYPING LIKE THIS. All lowercase is more complicated; you say it's a sign of ignorance, yet as Tom Scott said (and as I can attest from experience), people will intentionally circumvent the autocorrect feature on their phones to make everything they write lowercase. Really think about this: is that a sign of ignorance, or a sign that they're trying to communicate something about their voice? In my experience, all lowercase is used variously to convey a casual tone, as a tool for deadpan humor, to show that someone isn't feeling their greatest (this depends on their normal style of typing), or in the case of certain online games, because there isn't time to worry about proper capitalization. Eliminating punctuation or using it in nonconventional ways is used to convey the rhythm of the words, which itself can transmit lots of supplementary information that goes along with a phrase. More recently, you might have seen tHiS sTylE oF tYpiNG to indicate a mocking tone.

      Nothing about any of this, in any way, inherently displays ignorance on the side of the people who use them. What if I told you that I normally use all lowercase in my speech on the internet? Does that mean I'm ignorant, or not completely literate? What do you even define as "completely literate"? Does your definition of "completely literate" need to be met in order to function in this brave new world? What if I gave you the best advice you'd ever heard in your life, but in all lowercase?

      I would daresay these new styles of typing actually enhance information transmission rather than hinder it.

  • LeahDell _04
    LeahDell _04 3 days ago

    ☆ミu fowgot da uwu fwend 。゚(゚´Д`゚)゚。

  • Hymn
    Hymn 5 days ago


  • 1castellp
    1castellp 5 days ago


  • Greyson Alley
    Greyson Alley 5 days ago

    A few other text lingo things include:
    AlTeRnAtInG cApItAlS.
    S p a c e d o u t
    Number ones with exclamation points for sarcasm!!1!!1!1!

  • Sergej Keser
    Sergej Keser 6 days ago

    I personaly think that capitalisation and punctition (forgive my english here) should always be used. I always end my texts either with ./!/?/... or a smiley face but only sometimes, usually when talking to people that I have a really casual relationship.

  • KoyKoy
    KoyKoy 6 days ago

    There is also:
    Kskjsjsjs adding extra letters for a sort of panicy/exasperated tone
    s p a c i n g o u t a l l t h e l e t t e r s f o r i n t e n s i t y
    AlTeRnAtInG cApItAl AnD lOwErCaSe FoR sArcAsM
    (I still probably forgot some heh)

  • Emilio LT
    Emilio LT 7 days ago

    W A S S U P 🅱️

  • ZynXc
    ZynXc 7 days ago

    I use bold letters do put more emphasis on my sentence/words, such as:

  • kilgarragh
    kilgarragh 7 days ago


  • Stop Subscribing To Me

    Whenever a living entity says something to me it's automatic to have sass and sarcasm

  • F Sch
    F Sch 9 days ago

    Anyone else noticed that suddenly at some point likes are only shown in the thousands on youtube?
    Tom you need to safe me and tell me why that is?
    I know that video about the twitter problem, where the likes weren't counted right because too many likes came in and the server couldnt keep up. But I cant imagine that this is the reason to only show thousands? Like seriously, dont tell me that a comment that gets a thousand likes need to stay at 1000 until it reaches 2000 because of servers being flooded with likes

  • gavin endsley
    gavin endsley 9 days ago

    0n1y r341 64m3r5 w0u1d u53 1337 5p34K

  • Thon Capuchon
    Thon Capuchon 9 days ago +1


  • Matthew VP
    Matthew VP 9 days ago

    I was reading that some of the more mature population still type with double spaces. This goes back to typewriters - a single space was the same size as a letter so a double space looked better. It’s interesting how it’s so habitual for some people that they still do it even with modern keyboards

  • Jon Hernandez
    Jon Hernandez 10 days ago

    My communications teacher should of used this video for my class 😂

  • princessthyemis
    princessthyemis 10 days ago

    This is EXTREMELY fascinating and well-presented! You explained everything wonderfully!!

  • Faun Radia
    Faun Radia 10 days ago

    Ey your magesty wassup

  • End of Infinity
    End of Infinity 10 days ago +1

    My obsessive compulsive disorder makes me have to put full stops at the end of everything. It's really annoying, because I don't want to come off as sounding irritated rip. Anyone else?

  • Pradeep Poonia
    Pradeep Poonia 11 days ago


  • Stephen La Follette
    Stephen La Follette 11 days ago

    When I see poorly constructed texts, especially on Twitter, it makes me think that the person making the point is not very bright.

  • MrBCftw
    MrBCftw 12 days ago

    3:05 japan?

  • JammyKeyFloop
    JammyKeyFloop 12 days ago


  • Patja Forest
    Patja Forest 12 days ago

    I'm gdjsbdkd at him mentioning crytyping like thas something I didn't expect djsnsj

  • Vitorruy1
    Vitorruy1 13 days ago


  • ilikezelda64
    ilikezelda64 13 days ago

    You also forgot something rather new, being the sort of sarcastic writing, or other times like a mock imitation thing. Basically capital letters every other letter.
    Sure, it starts as a meme, but after a while will probably become ingrained into internet lingo.

    Person 1: I don't think that's a very good idea.
    Person 2: "i DoN't ThInK tHaT's A vErY gOoD iDeA"

  • Austin Wyant
    Austin Wyant 14 days ago

    God dammit... I wanted to know about those passive aggressive ellipses

  • Peter Whyman
    Peter Whyman 14 days ago

    Great video!

  • Radurty
    Radurty 14 days ago

    this video is Clearly outdated please make an update

  • Adranir Doradrië
    Adranir Doradrië 14 days ago

    Those who grew up with internet know another language, and they natural speakers

  • Qwerty-Space
    Qwerty-Space 14 days ago

    wtf happened to the audio in this one?

  • Rebecca Risk
    Rebecca Risk 15 days ago +1

    This is very interesting, thank you!

  • Rudra Jain
    Rudra Jain 16 days ago

    Hey random stranger! Lets be friends so we can talk casually.

  • Christopher Dibbs
    Christopher Dibbs 16 days ago +1

    I don't like this. I'm too OCD to not capitalise proper nouns, and use the correct punctuation.
    I can't stand, especially on the internet, when people don't use punctuation, don't capitalise correctly, misspell words, or get words entirely wrong. (There vs they're vs their.)
    So saying that that's actually okay, doesn't sit well.

    • powerLien
      powerLien 10 days ago +1

      Tom Scott is saying it's okay depending on context. I personally don't mix up they're vs their vs there, but I do sometimes swap between "though" and the more casual spelling "tho", depending on the tone I'm using. I also don't capitalize most words (except I) when speaking with friends on my discord server, but I tend to when speaking to my grandma on facebook. I think it's the result of a hyperliterate society, where more and more communication is being done solely through text, and conventions and symbols developed earlier when that wasn't the case are being co-opted for other uses, now that continuing to stick with them is not necessarily recognized as an imperative for conveying information via text.

  • Jason Patterson
    Jason Patterson 17 days ago

    My only real problem with the various text-based writing styles is that people are so used to them and use them so frequently that they often don't notice that they're using them in other contexts. I get lab reports from some students with bizarre capitalization patterns or missing punctuation at a much higher rate than I did 10 years ago, for instance. I also find it amusing that some young people get annoyed at the use of capitals and punctuation in something like a text or TVclip comment. (I don't plan on dying for the next 40 years or so, so get used to it, whippersnappers!)

  • Altefore
    Altefore 17 days ago

    I prefer to use capitalization and punctuation when I type. Even if I were to change that habit, people could still find innovative ways to misconstrue my words, or to infer meaning that I never intended. If anyone has a problem, they can ask for clarification or get over it. Auto-correct tends to create more problems than it solves, so I disabled it. I have to own up to any mistakes I make, but I can accept that.

  • CoolAsFreya
    CoolAsFreya 17 days ago

    I thought I was weird for purposefully de-capitalising words sometimes but apparently not

  • McMatthew99
    McMatthew99 17 days ago +1

    alternatively, starting a sentence all in lowercase and then slowly incluDiNg capiTaLs tO indiCaTe riSiNg toNe or agGitAtiOn

  • GamingKing2436
    GamingKing2436 17 days ago

    0:49 this happened on my group for a day. Nooooooooooo

  • Taylor Ford
    Taylor Ford 17 days ago

    I am fascinated with language and your videos are very interesting, thank you.

  • Spiyder
    Spiyder 17 days ago

    you took this too far

  • 小紅蛺蝶
    小紅蛺蝶 17 days ago

    It's so interesting that you pointed out that in internet speak a question mark indicates a rising tone an a full stop a falling tone? Now that I'm studying Chinese I find it really interesting how english speakers use tone to communicate emotion rather than meaning, but I never noticed this before !

  • Enderdavid_HD DE
    Enderdavid_HD DE 17 days ago +2

    1:03 thats different in german🤨😀
    German is relatively easy...🤣

  • despite what you’ve heard

    Excellent video, but did you have to make the period illustration red?

  • Purple Fire 28
    Purple Fire 28 17 days ago

    1:11 Shouldn't queen be lower case?

  • Limey Lassen
    Limey Lassen 17 days ago +2

    /s is a fun one. People used to fully write it out as (/sarcasm) as programmer humor but it got so common that's no longer needed.

  • Gavin Hackland
    Gavin Hackland 17 days ago

    Difference in tone is all well and good, but there is no excuse for bad spellong,

  • Stijn Weijters
    Stijn Weijters 17 days ago

    I expect some uwu talk to creep in... thank for not using that since it should be illegal.!.!!

  • cyrilio
    cyrilio 17 days ago +1

    Seriously, sarcasm is hard with text. Adding /s to the end of your sentence definitely helps. Especially if others might consider your sarcasm as serious and hate you.

    • Vitorruy1
      Vitorruy1 13 days ago

      The fun of sarcasm is not saying you're being sarcastic

  • Jäger
    Jäger 17 days ago

    I speak both German and English, and capitalisation on the internet is constantly messing me

    As in written German we capitalise all our nouns compared to English where only the start of sentences and proper nouns are capitalised(this provided particularly mind boggling when I was writing my major for university).

  • tokionovaloid
    tokionovaloid 17 days ago

    3:32 people who type like this are extremely irritating

  • David Barry
    David Barry 18 days ago

    Although you raise many good points, your suggestion will lead to the decay of society and the eventual collapse of Western Civilization. All because of you

  • Shovlaxnet
    Shovlaxnet 18 days ago +1

    Don't forget uwu

  • Avia Historia
    Avia Historia 18 days ago


  • Aisha The Potato
    Aisha The Potato 18 days ago +2

    I'm that one kid that corrects everyone's grammar then get into fights for doing so.

  • AL Winter
    AL Winter 19 days ago


  • MsBesthh
    MsBesthh 20 days ago


  • Liggliluff
    Liggliluff 20 days ago +2

    But I like ominous ellipsis ...

  • Nifol
    Nifol 20 days ago +4

    Should rhetorical questions not be followed by an interrobang‽

    • Purple Fire 28
      Purple Fire 28 17 days ago

      Rhetorical questions aren't that hard to recognize, so I think not so much. Most people don't know what the interrobang is. Besides /s or ~ can indicate sarcasm so that can kind of be used in the same way

    WOOD MINER 20 days ago +1


  • Ninni Nicoll
    Ninni Nicoll 21 day ago

    this is the best video ever

  • Mr. Awesome's Animations
    Mr. Awesome's Animations 22 days ago +1

    I got a grammerly ad before this video...

  • Logo
    Logo 22 days ago

    2:44 omg this explains so much of the miscommunication with my friends who don't really go to the english side of the internet

    I have picked up this habit of using ? to represent rising tone for some reason, but most of the time when I do it with my rl friends on whatsapp and stuff they will misunderstand me as actually asking a question

    also unrelated note but something about modern day instant messengers: I don't know if this is the norm globally, when at least from what I see, the most "casual" register would be using audio altogether. Typing out our native language in spoken form (Cantonese) turned out to look way more serious than anything else, somewhat like an "angry" kind of tone than a neutral, serious one.
    Does this happen anywhere else?

  • Mirano
    Mirano 22 days ago

    I’m so happy these are back

  • Lol UWotM8?
    Lol UWotM8? 22 days ago


  • Boredman567
    Boredman567 23 days ago +1

    Also, probably the biggest and most traditional example of people capitalizing a word For Effect is when using pronouns for God. It's standard practice to capitalize pronouns when referring to God, and you most often see it in religious books or writings by more religious people.

  • Steve Perry
    Steve Perry 23 days ago +1

    "I am one of many people who strongly believe capital lettering means yelling or shouting."

  • Steve Perry
    Steve Perry 23 days ago

    "I don't like words like gonna and wanna.""Words should be want to be, and going to."

  • Steve Perry
    Steve Perry 23 days ago

    A lot of social media users have "poor grammar" And "I don't like poor grammar."

  • RacingTopsy
    RacingTopsy 23 days ago

    And then you've got the whole dilemma of speaking multiple languages (or even dialects) and both having other conventions.
    In my regional swiss german we use for instance a full stop normally, a sentence lacking one would seem either stressed, disappointed, or something else in that direction.
    And then you hop back to english and make a mess there haha