Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Slipping into a Comma

It could be the greatest mass extinction since the Cretaceous. and it's underway.

Baron researches the effect of instant messengers, email and SMS on language. And she says that in the next 10 years, the Internet will shave the fat off of questionably useful punctuation.

"If you Google a word with an apostrophe, Google doesn't care," she says.

It's true. A search for 90's, '90s and 90s' turns up the same 10 websites, albeit in different orders.

Equally insignificant for Google were compound words and the hyphen.

Most literate users won't distinguish between e-mail and email, for instance — in the world according to search engines, it's all email to them.