Monday, June 14, 2010

Got A Better Word for Tweet?

So, the New York Times forbids the word “tweet” in its pages. Now, wants readers to come up with better words than Twitter’s “tweet” and “retweet,” and Facebook’s “like.”


Better in what sense?

Now I agree that some of the Twitter nonsense is just that, nonsense. Don’t need a better word to describe such things as twitterverse, tweeple, tweeps, twitteratti and the like. Some times the cutesy factor of new words gets taken too far.

But for the basic “what should a single message on Twitter be called,” why call it anything else but a tweet? Those who know what it means don’t need another word, and those who don’t, don’t need another explanation aside from “A tweet is a message on Twitter.” The best advice, as already mentioned here earlier, is to perhaps use the word once, or mention somehow that the messages you’re quoting are from Twitter, and then just use words like “says” or “writes,” rather than the jargon.

And while it does seem odd, as Slate points out, to “like” an article from detailing the death of actor Gary Coleman, it’s not the word, but the insistence that we feel compelled to connect ourselves to any article or event or personage or whatever with a thumbs up or a comment that is questionable, not the word used to describe it.

After all, it is just as Homer Simpson says: “Why do they call it crab grass? Everyone would like it if it had a cuter name, like Elf Grass.”

I’m sure we went through the same thing when e-mail came into common parlance. We went through the same word craze when high fidelity wound recordings were new (as seen in the comic strip Peanuts, in which Lucy, then Violet, show off their hi-fi jump rope and parasol, respectively, to a bemused Charlie Brown, who wonders how such items can be considered high fidelity).

Does the language drive us or do we drive the language? I rather prefer us in the driver’s seat.

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