Talk Revolution
Seema Chishti
A WORLD WITHOUT “WHOM”: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO LANGUAGE IN THE BUZZFEED AGE by Emmy J. Favilla Bloomsbury, USA, 2017, 400 pp., $26.00
December 2019, volume 43, No 12

Seema Chishti
A WORLD WITHOUT “WHOM”: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO LANGUAGE IN THE BUZZFEED AGE
By Emmy J. Favilla
Bloomsbury, USA, 2017, pp. 400, $26.00

The great ‘Talk revolution’ which gripped India and the world with the mobile phone in the nineties threatened to destroy reading and writing. It was assumed that if writing had defined how our heads were wired when it was invented, the mobile phone would unspool that. But technology is always tough to anticipate, so with text messages and then the smartphone, suddenly written text was right back into our lives.

The world now accesses news, views, entertainment and intimacy on the phone and it has made the writing stage return with a bang. What is critical is that it is not the same world as when pen met paper, the medium does define the message.

So when the BuzzFeed Copy Chief, Emmy J Favilla, writes a book speculating on what the world would look like without ‘whom’, who will not be interested? The point of the book is to speak of the journey of language in a world she chooses to call the BuzzFeed Age.

There are many books that look engagingly at the comma, the semicolon, the death of the full stop and also language etiquette. But this is not exactly Eats, Shoots and Leaves or about updating the Wren and Martin. Forget different languages, even if one were to consider just English, the Internet and its immediacy ensures that we live in times when there is much more to be said and understood instantly and across cultures. One could be instantly speaking to Istanbul and Sao Paolo and New Delhi.

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