Gretchen McCulloch

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Gretchen McCulloch
Academic background
Alma materMcGill University (MA)
Academic work
Sub-disciplineInternet linguistics Edit this at Wikidata

Gretchen McCulloch is a Canadian linguist. On her blog, as well as her podcast Lingthusiasm (which she cohosts with Lauren Gawne) she offers linguistic analysis of online communication such as internet memes, emoji and instant messaging. She writes regularly for Wired and previously did so for The Toast. In 2019, she published a book on internet linguistics, Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language.


McCulloch obtained a master's degree in linguistics at McGill University.[1]


McCulloch's writing online focuses on internet linguistics, a field first advocated by David Crystal. Her blog, which is titled "All Things Linguistic," posts or reposts content most weekdays; its posts, in conjunction with her other published work, are collectively known as "Gretchen McContent" by her fans. In it, she regularly discusses trends in use of English words, phrases and emoji in online communications as well as offering analysis of language form used in internet communications.[2] She was a resident writer on linguistics at feminist website The Toast, where in 2014 she wrote an article analyzing the grammar of the doge meme.[3] This article received coverage on BBC Radio 4, where McCulloch was interviewed on the subject by Evan Davis.[4]

In 2019, McCulloch's first book, Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, was published by Riverhead Books. The book explores the history of online communication in English and the linguistic trends that have emerged within it over the years,[5] as well as the effect such communication might have on the English language as a whole.[6][7]

The book received critical acclaim from The New York Times and soon after publication appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list.[8][9] It also received positive reviews on National Public Radio[10] and the Washington Post.[11]

She has worked with YouTube presenters: she collaborates with Tom Scott on the "Language Files" videos on his channel, and is one of the writers on the linguistics course for Crash Course.

In 2021, McCulloch received the Linguistics, Language and the Public Award from the Linguistics Society of America.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

McCulloch was featured in the xkcd webcomic on 4 November 2020, commenting on the etymology, going back to Indo-European roots, for words meaning "bear".[13] A linguist character with an identical appearance, presumed to be McCulloch, was also shown on xkcd’s 5 February 2021 comic. [14]

On November 16, 2020, McCulloch wrote out the lyrics on Twitter to a parody of the song Jolene called “Vaccine, “in response to news that Dolly Parton had contributed 1 million dollars toward the development of one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccines.” The song was recorded by Ryan Cordell, an English professor at Northeastern University.[15][16][17]


  1. ^ McCulloch, Gretchen. "Biography". Gretchen McCulloch. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  2. ^ McKelvey, Cynthia (2016). "How the Internet is changing the English language". Daily Dot. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  3. ^ McCulloch, Gretchen. "A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Doge. Wow". The Toast. Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  4. ^ Williams, Rhiannon (2014). "Radio 4: stop trying to intellectualise Doge. Wow". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  5. ^ Johnston, Kjerstin. "How the Internet Changed Language—for the Better". The Ringer. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  6. ^ Yu, Mallory; Kopp, Emily. "NYT Bestseller List.<=Our Language Is Evolving, 'Because Internet'". NPR. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  7. ^ Morton, Becky. "Is the full stop rude when used on WhatsApp?". BBC News. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  8. ^ Szalai, Jennifer. "Why Has Language Changed So Much So Fast? 'Because Internet'". New York Times. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  9. ^ Malcolm Fraser, Montreal Review of Books
  10. ^ Nunberg, Geoff. "Ironic, Informal And Expressive, 'New Rules Of Language' Evolve Online." Fresh Air. August 20, 2019.
  11. ^ Marz, Megan. "How the Internet has changed the way we write — and speak. It's not all ALL bad." Washington Post. September 12, 2019
  12. ^ "LSA Announces 2021 Awards and Honors | Linguistic Society of America". Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  13. ^ Munroe, Randall. "The True Name of the Bear". xkcd.
  14. ^ Munroe, Randall. "Tower of Babel". xkcd.
  15. ^ YouTube. Vaccine (to the tune of Dolly Parton's "Jolene")
  16. ^ Shannon Larson, "‘Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiiiiiiiiiine’: Northeastern professor performs rendition of Dolly Parton’s hit.” The Boston Globe. November 18, 2020
  17. ^ Nate Schwartz, "How Dolly Parton helped develop the COVID-19 vaccine." Deseret News. November 19, 2020

External links[edit]