Internet lowercased: it’s not “The Internet” any more

By : |June 6, 2016 0

When it’s the “I/internet” you are talking about, everything thing matters, even the alphabet “I”. The brain muscle will definitely switch while writing the ”I” of the internet and the ”W” of the Web, for they are no longer proper according to the annual American Copy Editor’s Society.

The word internet has been de-capitalized and w.e.f June 1, it’s no longer treated as a proper noun as distinct from generic internets or internet works, declared The Associated Press, and with it The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other US publications.

“The internet is wholly generic, like the telephone or electricity. It never was trademarked. It’s not based on any proper noun. And I think the best reason for capitalizing in the past may just have been the term was new. I read that at one point people, capitalized phonograph, so maybe it was something like that, but now it’s a routine part of daily life,” said AP’s Standards Editor Tom Kent.

The BBC and New York Times have already been using internet in lower case for quite some time now. The Times (London) has also slashed WWW to world wide web because web is no more something alien to us that needs to be highlighted.

The reason usually given for this shift in usage is that the internet and the web are changing from proper nouns—unique, named entities—to generic nouns through common use. Indeed, most people (other than techies) are not aware of any internets other than the Internet—that distinction is no longer relevant in ordinary usage. And for many younger folks who have grown up with the technology, the internet itself is ordinary—just another communication medium, like the telephone, television, and radio.

However, not everyone is happy about the change and believe that there are legitimate reasons for capitalizing the “I” on internet. For such souls internet is a place in itself, a different place from every other, which demands an ‘I’ for the internet.

Last October, Bob Wyman, a Google tech staffer and long-time Net expert said that the “I” should be capitalized to make clear the difference in meaning between the Internet (the global network that evolved out of ARPANET, the early Pentagon network), and any generic internet, or computer network connecting a number of smaller networks.

But Kent says that “it’s not a place. It’s a network of places. It’s here. It’s there. It’s everywhere.”

De-capitalization is not new to the English Language. There are plenty of examples of de-capitalization (and simplification) of common words that entered the language as unique, named entities but came to be written all in lower case with the passage of time.

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