In the 37th Nero Wolfe book, Gambit, Wolfe gleefully burns Webster’s Third New International Dictionary in his waiting room fireplace for the unpardonable crime of switching from prescriptive to descriptive depiction of the English language. That was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this report on Techcrunch that the Associated Press Stylebook is dropping the capitalization of “Internet” in its next edition which takes effect June 1.
The Stylebook is also dropping the capitalization of “Web,” which I don’t have as much of a quibble over since I already used it that way—but like my father, who still believes the widespread acceptance of split infinitives is a sign of the Apocalypse, I tend to prefer language to stay the way it is when I learned it. And it seems to me that capitalizing Internet makes sense as it’s a proper noun, and has been ever since the Internet was invented. An internet is a network that connects multiple networks together. The Internet is the particular internet we came to call by that given name.
But then, most people have never known any other internet than the Internet, nor is the word ever used anymore to refer to anything apart from that internet. So, perhaps it’s not such a surprise that the AP might decide it no longer merits a capital letter. Some news sources, such as The Verge, have already stopped capitalizing it. I personally don’t ever plan to.
There’s no word on whether the AP Stylebook has yet decided to drop the hyphen from “e-book.” As of last year, it still recommended using it, though it had removed it from “email.”