Feeds

New York Times bans 'tweet'

'Outside of ornithological contexts,' that is

High performance access to file storage

Writers at the New York Times were recently requested to stop referring to Twitter updates as "tweets" by the Gray Lady's standards editor, Phil Corbett.

With the internet causing radical upheavals in newspapers across the world, it is reassuring to find at least one that's prepared to stick to its guns.

In an electronic mail message that was line-cast by Mr Corbett himself using a personal computer keyboard, he insisted that "outside of ornithological contexts, 'tweet' has not yet achieved the status of standard English. And standard English is what we should use in news articles."

He continues: "Except for special effect, we try to avoid colloquialisms, neologisms and jargon. And 'tweet' — as a noun or a verb, referring to messages on Twitter — is all three. Yet it has appeared 18 times in articles in the past month, in a range of sections."

Corbett is not being completely unreasonable — he recognizes that new words come and go: "Of course, new technology terms sprout and spread faster than ever. And we don't want to seem paleolithic. But we favor established usage and ordinary words over the latest jargon or buzzwords."

However he would like to see people use "deft, English alternatives: use Twitter, post to or on Twitter, write on Twitter, a Twitter message, a Twitter update." Besides, "it doesn't help that the word itself seems so inherently silly".

It seems churlish to point out that the reason newspapers are having massive financial difficulties at the moment is because they seem incapable of adjusting to a modern world in which information is created and exchanged publicly by a vastly increased number of publishers.

For a newspaper of record it must be particularly harrowing for the NYT to discover that that "record" has already been downloaded, remixed — and, yes, tweeted — by the time it appears on its hallowed pages.

As lexicographers have been discovering, the explosion of information-sharing encouraged by simple publishing on services such as Twitter means that new words arrive, gain acceptance, and also disappear faster than ever. To pretend otherwise would be, well, inherently silly.

Not that Corbett is writing off "tweet" forever. "Someday, 'tweet' may be as common as 'e-mail',” he helpfully points out.

Apart from the fact that the Gray Lady still insists on hyphenating "email" — presumably on the belief that people still understand it as "electronic mail" — we have no doubt that the NYT is demonstrating exactly the kind of steady hand that is needed in these difficult times.

As we understand, the Times of London and the Financial Times have also followed suit in banning use the word 'tweet'. Unfortunately, since all their "Web log writers" are now stuck behind an "electronic payment barrier" we can't confirm whether that is in fact true. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Forget the beach 'n' boardwalk, check out the Santa Cruz STEVE JOBS FOUNTAIN
Reg reader snaps shot of touching tribute to Apple icon
Happy 40th Playmobil: Reg looks back at small, rude world of our favourite tiny toys
Little men straddle LOHAN, attend tiny G20 Summit... ah, sweet memories...
Oz bank in comedy Heartbleed blog FAIL
Bank: 'We are now safely patched.' Customers: 'You were using OpenSSL?'
Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest
New minifigs like Monster Fighters are turning kids to the dark side
Dark SITH LORD 'Darth Vader' joins battle to rule, er, Ukraine
Only I can 'make an empire out of a republic' intones presidential candidate
Chinese company counters pollution by importing fresh air
Citizens line up for bags of that sweet, sweet mountain air
Google asks April Fools: Want a job? Be our 'Pokemon Master'
Mountain View is prankin' like it's 1999...
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.