why typing like this is sometimes okay.

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: trvision.net/wow-PL96C35uN7xGLDEnHuhD7CTZES3KXFnwm0
Written with Gretchen McCulloch and Molly Ruhl. Gretchen's new book, BECAUSE INTERNET, is available soon:
🇺🇸 US: amzn.to/30tLpjT
🇨🇦 CA: amzn.to/2JsTYWH
🇬🇧 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
on Twitter at twitter.com/tomscott
on Facebook at facebook.com/tomscott
and on Instagram as tomscottgo




  • 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!

    Tom ScottTom ScottAylar önce
    • no capital letters, me too

      Razor MRazor M12 gün önce
    • 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.

      pmailkeeypmailkeey18 gün önce
    • 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.

      carrstone01carrstone0118 gün önce

      Artie person guyArtie person guyAylar önce
    • okay, I’m old... why exactly do I use ellipses?

      blacksmith67blacksmith67Aylar önce
  • Great video! I'm currently listening to the audiobook version of Because Internet, and I came to TRvision 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!

    Mike BenderMike BenderGün önce
  • Most neologisms and quirks slip past intuitively but misplaced apostrophes stop me dead every time!

    phil smithphil smith2 gün önce
  • i ttx lik dis xuz ima genius

    MM2 gün önce
  • 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.

    Patrick McAseyPatrick McAsey4 gün önce
    • "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.

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

    LeahDell _04LeahDell _044 gün önce
  • k.

    HymnHymn6 gün önce
  • /s

    1castellp1castellp6 gün önce
  • 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!

    Greyson AlleyGreyson Alley6 gün önce
  • 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.

    Sergej KeserSergej Keser7 gün önce
  • 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)

    KoyKoyKoyKoy7 gün önce
  • W A S S U P 🅱️

    Emilio LTEmilio LT7 gün önce
  • I use bold letters do put more emphasis on my sentence/words, such as: *DADDY, STOP UHHHHHHHH*

    ZynXcZynXc8 gün önce
  • M8

    kilgarraghkilgarragh8 gün önce
  • Whenever a living entity says something to me it's automatic to have sass and sarcasm

    Stop Subscribing To MeStop Subscribing To Me9 gün önce
  • 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

    F SchF Sch9 gün önce
  • 0n1y r341 64m3r5 w0u1d u53 1337 5p34K

    gavin endsleygavin endsley10 gün önce
  • Ok......

    Thon CapuchonThon Capuchon10 gün önce
  • 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

    Matthew VPMatthew VP10 gün önce
  • My communications teacher should of used this video for my class 😂

    Jon HernandezJon Hernandez11 gün önce
  • This is EXTREMELY fascinating and well-presented! You explained everything wonderfully!!

    princessthyemisprincessthyemis11 gün önce
  • Ey your magesty wassup

    Faun RadiaFaun Radia11 gün önce
  • 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?

    End of InfinityEnd of Infinity11 gün önce
  • okay

    Pradeep PooniaPradeep Poonia12 gün önce
  • When I see poorly constructed texts, especially on Twitter, it makes me think that the person making the point is not very bright.

    Stephen La FolletteStephen La Follette12 gün önce
    • Such as our president.

      Dan SchwartzDan Schwartz2 saatler önce
  • ;o)

    Супер канал Влада!Супер канал Влада!12 gün önce
  • 3:05 japan?

    MrBCftwMrBCftw13 gün önce
  • ok

    JammyKeyFloopJammyKeyFloop13 gün önce
  • I'm gdjsbdkd at him mentioning crytyping like thas something I didn't expect djsnsj

    Patja ForestPatja Forest13 gün önce
  • Ok.

    Vitorruy1Vitorruy114 gün önce
  • 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"

    ilikezelda64ilikezelda6414 gün önce
  • God dammit... I wanted to know about those passive aggressive ellipses

    Austin WyantAustin Wyant14 gün önce
  • Great video!

    Peter WhymanPeter Whyman15 gün önce
  • this video is Clearly outdated please make an update

    RadurtyRadurty15 gün önce
  • Those who grew up with internet know another language, and they natural speakers

    Adranir DoradriëAdranir Doradrië15 gün önce
  • wtf happened to the audio in this one?

    Qwerty-SpaceQwerty-Space15 gün önce
  • This is very interesting, thank you!

    Rebecca RiskRebecca Risk16 gün önce
  • Hey random stranger! Lets be friends so we can talk casually.

    Rudra JainRudra Jain17 gün önce
  • 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.

    Christopher DibbsChristopher Dibbs17 gün önce
    • 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.

      powerLienpowerLien11 gün önce
  • 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 TRvision comment. (I don't plan on dying for the next 40 years or so, so get used to it, whippersnappers!)

    Jason PattersonJason Patterson17 gün önce
  • 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.

    AlteforeAltefore18 gün önce
  • I thought I was weird for purposefully de-capitalising words sometimes but apparently not

    CoolAsFreyaCoolAsFreya18 gün önce
  • alternatively, starting a sentence all in lowercase and then slowly incluDiNg capiTaLs tO indiCaTe riSiNg toNe or agGitAtiOn

    McMatthew99McMatthew9918 gün önce
  • 0:49 this happened on my group for a day. Nooooooooooo

    GamingKing2436GamingKing243618 gün önce
  • I am fascinated with language and your videos are very interesting, thank you.

    Taylor FordTaylor Ford18 gün önce
  • you took this too far

    SpiyderSpiyder18 gün önce
  • 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 !

    小紅蛺蝶小紅蛺蝶18 gün önce
  • 1:03 thats different in german🤨😀 German is relatively easy...🤣

    Enderdavid_HD DEEnderdavid_HD DE18 gün önce
  • Excellent video, but did you have to make the period illustration red?

    despite what you’ve hearddespite what you’ve heard18 gün önce
  • 1:11 Shouldn't queen be lower case?

    Purple Fire 28Purple Fire 2818 gün önce
  • /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.

    Limey LassenLimey Lassen18 gün önce
  • Difference in tone is all well and good, but there is no excuse for bad spellong,

    Gavin HacklandGavin Hackland18 gün önce
  • I expect some uwu talk to creep in... thank for not using that since it should be illegal.!.!!

    Stijn WeijtersStijn Weijters18 gün önce
    • UwU

      Vitorruy1Vitorruy114 gün önce
  • WHY DIDNT YOU MENTION THE USE OF /s AT THE END OF SENTENCES. 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.

    cyriliocyrilio18 gün önce
    • The fun of sarcasm is not saying you're being sarcastic

      Vitorruy1Vitorruy114 gün önce
  • 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).

    JägerJäger18 gün önce
  • 3:32 people who type like this are extremely irritating

    tokionovaloidtokionovaloid18 gün önce
  • 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

    David BarryDavid Barry19 gün önce
  • Don't forget uwu

    ShovlaxnetShovlaxnet19 gün önce

    Avia HistoriaAvia Historia19 gün önce
  • I'm that one kid that corrects everyone's grammar then get into fights for doing so.

    Aisha The PotatoAisha The Potato19 gün önce
    • @powerLien Thank you. I fixed it.

      Aisha The PotatoAisha The Potato11 gün önce
    • everyone's*

      powerLienpowerLien11 gün önce
  • *ok*

    AL WinterAL Winter20 gün önce
  • Spanish ¡¿!?

    MsBesthhMsBesthh21 gün önce
  • But I like ominous ellipsis ...

    LiggliluffLiggliluff21 gün önce
  • Should rhetorical questions not be followed by an interrobang‽

    NifolNifol21 gün önce
    • 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

      Purple Fire 28Purple Fire 2818 gün önce
  • K

  • this is the best video ever

    Ninni NicollNinni Nicoll22 gün önce
  • I got a grammerly ad before this video...

    Mr. Awesome's AnimationsMr. Awesome's Animations22 gün önce
  • 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?

    LogoLogo22 gün önce
  • I’m so happy these are back

    MiranoMirano23 gün önce
  • ok.

    Lol UWotM8?Lol UWotM8?23 gün önce
why typing like this is sometimes okay.