Change of Case: Internet is now internet

The word nerd’s Bible, AP Stylebook, will from June 1 this year, recommend that the word ‘Internet’ be spelled with a lower-case i.

If you haven’t been paying much attention to the upper-case, lower-case debate regarding the Internet and the Web, these words have always been spelled with an upper-case initial because they are proper nouns.

Much like you refer to the board game Monopoly with a capital letter, but the practice of dominating a market as a lower-case monopoly, capitalisation of words can infer that something is special. The Associated Press, authors of the AP Stylebook, are saying that the Internet is now such a common part of everyday life that it doesn’t require special capitalisation.

But, before we get even further down that path, all you really need to know is that unlike illegally downloading your favourite TV shows, there’s no risk of receiving fines or penalties if you still want to call it the Internet, you can. The AP Stylebook is a guide – it’s not a book of law.

However, the AP Stylebook is a highly considered volume by writers of all kinds around the world, and they use it as a basis for their work online and in print, so it’s a good thing to know about when you’re composing your next written piece.

Also receiving the lower-case treatment from June 1 will be “web”, a shorthand reference to what we know was the World Wide Web, another common technology word that has become common.

Changes to the AP Stylebook are an interesting indicator to how society is changing the way we use the English language. For example, in 2008 the words “podcast” and “social networking” were added, and can you imagine life without them now?

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