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Stop The Presses. No More Capital I For The Internet

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A small change about the internet this week - a decapitalization. The Associated Press, and with it The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other publications, declared that as of June 1, they will no longer spell internet with a capital I. Tom Kent is standards editor of the Associated Press and coeditor of the "AP Stylebook." He joins us from New York. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

TOM KENT: How are you, Scott?

SIMON: Fine, thanks, but I don't have to answer a lot of these questions from persnickety grammar people. Why was the internet capitalized in the first place?

KENT: Well, that's a good question. 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.

SIMON: Is it in anyway because to a lot of people, the internet is a place?

KENT: It is. And when people sometimes say, I bought it on the internet, maybe they're thinking it's like, I bought in France.

SIMON: (Laughter).

KENT: But it's not a place. It's a network of places. It's here. It's there. It's everywhere.

SIMON: Yeah. I should explain that NPR apparently has not changed its policy, so you will notice that I am pronouncing internet with a capital I.

KENT: It comes right through.

SIMON: Thank you. Can I ask you a couple of other AP style questions?

KENT: Oh, yeah.

SIMON: Yeah. So as a Chicagoan, I've always had to refer to the L train as an E-L. You say just the letter L will be OK from now on.

KENT: Yeah. We now have L as the shortest entry in the "AP Stylebook." What they say is L in news media in Chicago - that's what the Chicago Transit Authority says. So E-L - I think there's probably some sentimental attachment in the sense of elevated, but it really is the L, so we have formalized that now.

SIMON: How often do you review and revise?

KENT: We review the "Stylebook" officially once a year, but most people these days access the "Stylebook" not through the paper book, but through Stylebook Online. And we make updates to that all the time. So it's a fairly frequent thing. A lot of the changes are small, but now and then, we do things that in the world of style are a big deal.

A year or so ago, the world was turned upside down - or part of the world was turned upside down - when we decided that it was it OK to say over ten instead of more than ten. And the internet change has brought a lot of reaction, too. Somebody tweeted, after we announced the change, AP has lowercased internet. Somewhere tonight, galaxies are burning.

SIMON: (Laughter) And you know what? The AP and NPR will be there to cover them.

KENT: Absolutely.

SIMON: Tom Kent, standards editor of the Associated Press. Thanks so much.

KENT: Pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.