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New York Times Bans Use of Word "Tweet"

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the seems-fair-enough dept.

Communications 426

An anonymous reader writes "New York Times standards editor Phil Corbett has had enough of his journalists' sloppy writing. Their offense? Using the 'inherently silly' word 'tweet' 18 times in the last month. In an internal memo obtained by theawl.com, he orders his writers to use alternatives, such as '"use Twitter" ... or "a Twitter update."' He admits that ' ... 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 ...' After all, he points out, ' ... another service may elbow Twitter aside next year, and "tweet" may fade into oblivion.' Of course, it is also possible that social media sites will elbow paleolithic media into oblivion, and Mr. Corbett will no longer have to worry about word use." While this sounds like it could as well be an Onion story, the memo is being widely reported.

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Thank God (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543626)

Someone had to do it.

Gained respect for NYT (5, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543638)

I cringe every time I hear the word 'tweet'.

Agreed (5, Insightful)

Concern (819622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543668)

Sounds like good editorial policy to me.

"Tweet" is almost as bad as "blogosphere."

Re:Gained respect for NYT (4, Funny)

vikstar (615372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543768)

Phil Corbett groks journalism.

New usage: Twitter user==Twit (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543788)

I still don't get the point of badly re-implemented mobile IRC.

Actually forget this post.

This is just the old usage of twit.

Re:Gained respect for NYT (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543828)

Agreed. The point of the original poster seems to be "Gee, look how silly NYT is being." But the NYT is right. Tweet is not standard English, at least not yet.

But then (and I don't care if it dismays the marketing departments), I don't "google" either, I do a web search, I don't use "Kleenex," I use facial tissue, and I don't "Xerox," I copy. I guess I don't accept blatant attempts to commercialize generic English terms. And why should anyone?

--This message brought to you by Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (R). It's the cheesiest (TM).

A weak chirping sound (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543900)

Tweet is not standard English

English has no normative standards body, but a few U.S. dictionaries define "tweet" as "a weak chirping sound".

Re:Gained respect for NYT (4, Informative)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544020)

Tweet is not standard English, at least not yet.

According to the Complete Oxford English Dictionary:
"tweet, n. and int. An imitation of the note of a small bird. Also repeated."
"Hence tweet v. trans., to utter in this way, to twitter; also transf." [my emphasis]
It's been standard English since the middle of the 19th century. With variant spellings it goes back at least as far as the 16th century.

Re:Gained respect for NYT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32544068)

I did a search for the word "bird" and so far found it in 5 places (now 6 thanks to me).

Re:Gained respect for NYT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543844)

It's established on the main page of twitter.com. The word exists. Get over it.

Re:Gained respect for NYT (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543860)

I cringe every time I hear the word 'tweet'.

I cringe everytime I hear english. It's the language of borrowed words, and I'm pretty sure the rules for it were invented a lot later, when people realized they might have to teach it. This is why when it comes to english, I prefer to be practical: If it's understandable by everyone involved, it is "good" language. If nobody understands it, it is "bad" language. Whether the words are on the approved list or not is pedantic and not useful.

Re:Gained respect for NYT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32544062)

Every language borrows words. Eventually (and I mean that, a very long time from now) there will probably be only one language, which is some combination of all the current languages of the world plus text-speak. I'm glad I'll be long dead by then. Text-speak makes me wish I was dead now.

Unrelated, but I've always wondered so I have to ask... are you a girl who is training for something (if so, what?), or are you training to be a girl? (whether you are or are not currently female). Your name makes me curious every time I see it :)

Re:Gained respect for NYT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32544178)

stfu an gtfo. kthxbai

Re:Gained respect for NYT (4, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543888)

Yeah. Not only that, but anyone (eg: the submitter) who thinks that Twitter is in any way pushing the NYT into obsolescence is insane. Twitter is inane and stupid, the NYT is actual, you know, news.

Other variations on news may or may not be making the NYT obsolete, but Twitter has not a damn thing to do with it.

Re:Gained respect for NYT (2, Funny)

TomXP411 (860000) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543950)

Heck, I'm still annoyed at "website". When did those two words merge?

Re:Gained respect for NYT (5, Funny)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543972)

The hyphen was removed in 2000 it was part of the fix for the y2k bug.

Re:Gained respect for NYT (1, Insightful)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544176)

Heck, I'm still annoyed at "website".

I'm still annoyed at "blog". But "blog" and "website" describe things for which there is no other word, so I'd say they're valid. Twitter, on the other hand, is just a blog with a ridiculously small size limit, so there's no good reason to make up a new verb for it.

New York Times maintaining its prestige. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32544076)

I agree. People sound moronic, pretending 'tweet' is actually appropriate verb usage. I still cringe hearing people use 'google' as opposed to 'google search'

Awesome (1, Redundant)

Dmritard96 (1268918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543640)

It's about time.

He has a point (4, Insightful)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543650)

Imagine imagine yourself reading the NYT archive from the 1920s and finding "flivver" or "flapper". Now imagine someone in a hundred years reading the archive of the now-current NYT and finding "tweet". Same deal.

He's may be too uptight* about it, but his idea is not completely without merit.

[*: 40 years ago?]

Re:He has a point (1, Informative)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543696)

Imagine imagine imagine me using preview!

Imagine the ability to edit comments! Imagine the ability to post a second one immediately!

Re:He has a point (1)

onionman (975962) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543782)

I agree! I've always felt like the NYT held a good balance between proper (American) English and pedantic grammar rules. Maybe other will follow. It would be nice if more media sources (both print and on-line) would follow the example set by The NYT, The New Yorker, and The Economist.

Re:He has a point (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543814)

Tweet is a word, same as all the rest. and while it is more then possible that it will fade from style that does not mean that it should not be used.

if you are looking back at really old news articles you most likely want to know what it was like back then and the lingo is part of that.

Sure it makes it harder to understand, but no one reads 40 yo new papers to get cold hard facts.

Re:He has a point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543982)

> Tweet is a word, same as all the rest. and while it is more then possible that it will fade from style that does not mean that it should not be used.

You can't get then/than right, yet you think we'd care about your opinion... weird.

Re:He has a point (5, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544030)

"Tweet is a word"
Tweet is what a bird does. Tweet does not, officially, mean "to submit a text string to twitter.com". The problem using "tweet" is that it's slang. Slang terms are unprofessional. You might as well allow NYT editors to write articles like "Popo caps a bitch after she tried to jack a 7-11" instead of "police shoot a woman after she attempted to rob a convenience store".

This entire situation is not a matter of "do people understand what we're saying?" It's a matter of "Is this professional". Of course people know what the word "tweet" means, but the issue is that it's not professional.

And responding to the assertion that twitter will force out the NYT: bullshit. Refusing to use slang terms in a professional publication does not ensure said publication's demise. In fact, it ensures exactly the opposite, that people will still regard the NYT as a professional publication with real writers, not some website where anyone can post literally anything without even the most basic fact checking.

Re:He has a point (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544078)

Tweet is a word, same as all the rest. and while it is more then possible that it will fade from style that does not mean that it should not be used.

It doesn't mean you have to use it every other sentence. This is particularly true if the subject of the story is Egyptian mummies, the campaigns of Napoleon, or a new composition by Philip Glass. Actually, on second thoughts it's probably OK for the latter.

How about google... (1)

keirre23hu (638913) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544134)

A quick search on the NY Times site shows that word is used out of context: http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch?query=googled&srchst=cse [nytimes.com] Google is not a verb. Thus one cannot be googling, have googled, or be planning to google in the future, yet the term is used in this way in several articles. While I understand where he's coming from, to single out Twitter and not other similarly retarded variations on websites or tech geek tools makes him just sound like an angry old man.

Re:He has a point (1)

carlzum (832868) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543914)

I have no argument if it's used in a quote or a reference to the term "tweet." But the NY Times wants its writers to avoid using slang in their own copy. It would be like going back to the 1960s archive and reading an article describing Kennedy's speech as "groovy." Even worse, "tweet" reinforces a fallacy that Twitter offers some novel, unique form of communicating.

Re:He has a point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543924)

Now imagine someone in a hundred years reading the archive of the now-current NYT and finding "tweet".

Well, they'd either A: Be able to see all the other data of that time allowing them to cross reference "to tweet" with the fairly new web phenomenon "Twitter" due to other news/etc sources which put the two together (Hail the information age) or B: They'd reason out that tweet is being used as a verb and seems to involve a quick way to release information into the wild meaning they'll gain a rough estimation of what "tweeting" was, if only as a form of extremely long distance town crying.

Historians aren't stupid. If anything, the main reason this guy banned "tweet" is because he hates using slang. And "tweet" is slang. Until it reaches the prevalence of the phrase "to google" it continues to be slang.

Re:He has a point (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543942)

He is only going to use language that never looses meaning through time? yeah, good luck with that.

It's also a disingenuous way to represent the current culture climate.

Re:He has a point (3, Funny)

JanneM (7445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544084)

"It's also a disingenuous way to represent the current culture climate."

Last time I looked, newspapers were into reporting news. "Represent the current culture climate" is what literature majors are supposed to be doing between shifts at the fryer station.

Re:He has a point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543970)

Using flapper is still cricket in my book.*
 
It's funny watching old movies or reading old texts -- so many of them are surprisingly timeless, but every so often you stumble on to something where the terminology and references are just too much to handle. I think the rate of neologisms in the tech area is becoming too much, and, like most of the associated technology, the words will fall into disuse faster than you can say "Jive turkey!" Nobody's going to refer to myspace in twenty years, outside of then-retro movies, and twitter is probably going to fall in to that same category a few years later.

*Flappers were the most attractive fashion of the 20th century; more women need to be made aware of this.

Re:He has a point (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544126)

Won't we have wikipedia like systems in the future? I can find out what "flapper" means in four clicks or eight key presses.

I'm not sure about your examples... (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544048)

I'm on the fence about whether I approve or disapprove of using "Tweet" (though I dislike the word) by journalists. However, I think your examples of "flivver" and "flapper" are poor ones. "Flappers" have become rather iconic for the era, so I would not even blink at seeing that word pop up in old articles, especially regarding entertainment or popular culture.

"Flivver", on the other hand, is far more obscure. However it's obviously survived time, even if to a lesser degree than "flapper."

I predict that "tweet" has less than a flivver's chance of surviving a century.

Jew York Times (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543666)

Shouldn't the Jew York Times be intercepting aid convoys instead of banning words?

Isn't that what Kikes do - starve their neighbors to steal their land and water?

Somebody should do something about this race of murderers and thieves.

News flash (1, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543690)

IF a new service sprung up tomorrow, everyone would STILL call them tweets.

That will forever be the term.

Typical old media school thinking

Re:News flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543734)

I know, right? The language is evolving, don't they get it? Jesus Christ.

Re:News flash (3, Funny)

dloose (900754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543758)

Yeah, man... things are never gonna change. EVER. Thinking otherwise is so old-school ~

Re:News flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543986)

Yeah, man... things are never gonna change. EVER. Thinking otherwise is so old-school ~

"Thinking is so old-school"

There. Fixed that for ya.

Re:News flash (1)

ZeBam.com (1790466) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543764)

Not according to trademark and copyright law.

Re:News flash (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543766)

No, it will not forever be the term. "Tweet" is a very Twitter-specific term, and a stupid one at that.

Re:News flash (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543854)

No, it will not forever be the term. "Tweet" is a very Twitter-specific term, and a stupid one at that.

Unlike the term used for the people who use Twitter: "Twats".

Re:News flash (0, Redundant)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544022)

Twits.

Re:News flash (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544174)

Unlike the term used for the people who use Twitter: "Twats".

As opposed to the people that Twitter uses, which are called sockpuppets [bit.ly] .

Re:News flash (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544028)

No, it'a already being used in reference to IM and texting.

How many expression are in everyday use even thought there original meaning is archaic? This is just one more.

"Put a sock in it"
"Son of a gun"
"Got your goat"
an so on.
"Be sure to tweet that"

Re:News flash (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544148)

How many expression are in everyday use even thought there original meaning is archaic?

Please tell me you did that - all of it - on purpose.

Re:News flash (3, Insightful)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544038)

In my humble opinion, "twit" seems a perfectly cromulent word for senders of Twitter messages.

Re:News flash (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544092)

No, it will not forever be the term. "Tweet" is a very Twitter-specific term, and a stupid one at that.

So is a Kleenex, a Band-Aid, a coke and yet those words are still commonly used without meaning the brand they represent.

Re:News flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32544128)

No, it will not forever be the term. "Tweet" is a very Twitter-specific term, and a stupid one at that.

Many people believe "tweet" is the sound birds make...

"In other news, the president tweeted his agenda" -> 100 years later? Do you think anyone will remember Twitter and Tweet?

Look at slang terms from 50 or 100 years ago...many people do not understand them. Just go to a 12 year old and tell them something is "the bee's knees" or "swell."

Pop culture references are horrible! How many people have bieber fever? In 100 years people are going to be like "oh my god, hundreds of millions of teenagers had bieber fever...that must have been awful! Not nearly as bad as when the president was so ill he began tweeting his words! That must have been from the bird flu!!"

Re:News flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543790)

I fervently hope you are proven to be very very wrong.

He's right (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543694)

The New York Times isn't going anywhere very soon. Of the two, it's more likely that Twitter would be eclipsed by some new service and the word "tweet" would return to being a sound birds make.

Certainly, for archival purposes, thinking about people in the future who might be reading news articles for research, "sent via Twitter" or something similar is more understandable than "tweeted" At least you could infer that Twitter was a messaging service from "sent via Twitter".

The word "tweet" might lead future historians to believe people went around making bird noises.

Re:He's right (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543868)

The word "tweet" might lead future historians to believe people went around making bird noises.

We could only hope that is what they infer. It is so much more elegant than the truth. "omg u r so ded lol"

Re:He's right (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544044)

yes, becasue in the future people will be morons.

Most like they will wonder why the NYT banned a common phrase.

From history perspective it makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543702)

From historic perspective it makes sense. These services come and go, and imagine someone reading NY times 20 years from now.

Twitter maybe replaced in future, and again again again... Imagine trying to understand the jungle of words from twenty years from now like "Buzzed, Tweeted...", when they really mean just "Twitter update".

I'm with the palaeolithic dude (3, Insightful)

mike260 (224212) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543712)

This obsession of tech companies with co-opting or coining their own verbs is pretty annoying. If you really must make words up, stick to proper nouns and quit polluting the rest of the namespace.

Re:I'm with the palaeolithic dude (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543906)

Thankfully, "Get off my lawn" is less than 140 characters.

Re:I'm with the palaeolithic dude (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543916)

This obsession of tech companies with co-opting or coining their own verbs is pretty annoying. If you really must make words up, stick to proper nouns and quit polluting the rest of the namespace.

Thank the gods, I thought I was the only one who felt "tweets" and such terms were beyond absurd and annoying. I put such tech-coined terms like "tweet", "blogosphere" (that one is beyond reproach),
"the cloud", etc. on par with hearing all the medical symptoms from these damn medical commercials. "Excessive rectal bleeding may occur. Be sure to talk to your doctor about XYZ".

Fucking absurd.

Re:I'm with the palaeolithic dude (1)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543932)

You should probably blog about that, I bet you'd get a lot of tweets supporting your point of view!

Re:I'm with the palaeolithic dude (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544172)

Then he could use crowdsourcing to make a literally exponential mashup.

Re:I'm with the palaeolithic dude (0)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543994)

This obsession of tech companies with co-opting or coining their own verbs is pretty annoying. If you really must make words up, stick to proper nouns and quit polluting the rest of the namespace.

I disagree! When I was a marketing director at a tech company, I coined a term that would have made them memorable and then they fired me for: sexual harassment, offending people, and making the workplace "hostile". Sons of bitches! All because I wanted to call our technology "Fuck". It was catchy too! The ad copyright went like this:

Having IT problems? Need a boost in productivity? Then you need to get Fucked!

The customers loved it! But the company hated it....

The company could have been: Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, etc...

I won't name names.

There *is* a generic term... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543714)

I mean, you can use site-specific terms like "tweet" and "dent" if you like, but if the NYT wants to avoid product-specific terms, they should instruct their columnists to say "microblog" instead.

"I tweeted about my dog's colonoscopy this morning" -> "I microblogged about my dog's colonoscopy this morning"

or

"Oh no! Not another poop-tweet!" -> "Oh no! Not another microblog about poop"

Using the generic term is kind of nice, too, as it doesn't prop-up the market leader's service or domain with free advertising.

-- Qubit

other services (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543718)

If some other service replaces Twitter, there's a good chance that using that service will also be referred to as "tweeting" since the term has become so well established, just as people refer to photocopying as "xeroxing" and to facial tissue as "kleenex". I don't care much for the word "tweet", but then I don't care much for Twitter either - its mostly a huge waste of time and an opportunity for obnoxious egotists to spam out details of their lives that hardly anyone should be interested in. But the word "tweet" is what people are using so its what journalists should use too.

Best way not to seem paleolithic? (1)

MatrixBandit (709610) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543724)

..don't use the world "paleolithic".

What's wrong with this? (2, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543730)

This doesn't sound like an Onion story to me. The Times is trying to establish a professional standard of writing, and "tweet" is a silly slang phrase that very well could be obsolete next year if Twitter is no longer as popular. The submitter's quip at the end is trying to turn this into a social media versus old media fight, but the Times is right on this one.

Re:What's wrong with this? (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543896)

Yeah, the Onion wrote about FourSquare [theonion.com] , not Twitter.

The term I've always used... (3, Funny)

WolfTheWerewolf (84066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543732)

for those who "tweet" is "twat".

Much more fitting.

Re:The term I've always used... (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543812)

"Twit" works well also.

Re:The term I've always used... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543824)

Why, I twatted your mom just the other night.

blog blogosphere a million times worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543742)

Stop using those.

Go ahead. Laugh. (1)

ZeBam.com (1790466) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543748)

Mock the NYT memo all you want. 50 years from now nobody will have the slightest idea of what a "tweet" was without having to go look it up. Using sappy, faddish slang words like "tweet" to mean a "Twitter messaging service text" (or whatever) is doomed to speedy obsolescence. Go ahead, laugh. Tweet your hipster friends about it. But you'd better tattoo it on your arm as well so that you won't forget to tell your grandkids about it.

BBS (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543838)

I always just get flashbacks on how BBS'es were going to change the world. There was a dutch innovation program, quite serious, started to have lots of "bbs" parts. X but with a BBS. Seemed very exciting back then, when I was young.

Now I see X but with social media and think "meh".

Will twitter be big? Sure. Same as BBS, the home page and lets not forget RSS. Are we now supposed to blog on our BBS home page and twitter the RSS feed?

Re:Go ahead. Laugh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543846)

Tweet (verb) - term used by twits who use the web service "twitter.com" to send SMS (short message service) style messages (also known as "texts" or "texting") to people who "follow" them on the service. Generally known as a silly diversion. Note that "tweet" is currently prohibited by the New York Times as they don't want to appear to be twits.

Re:Go ahead. Laugh. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543962)

I don't think most people fifty years from now would care to read an article whose topic would cover Twitter and its users. History buffs probably wouldn't mind looking up fad slang words. The article would probably obsolete itself just as quickly whether or not "tweet" is used. Really, I think the question should be who the audience is, how many people will read an article this week, and how many people will read said article this week fifty years from now. I don't think it makes much sense to make a clumsy reference to a Twitter message helps current readers for the sake of a handful of people fifty years from now.

Re:Go ahead. Laugh. (1)

ZeBam.com (1790466) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544130)

The problem wouldn't be articles about Twitter, but articles that use the word "tweet" in a way that assumes the reader knows what it is. Think of "telephone call" or "electronic mail message." Self-explanatory terms like those stand the test of time far better.

They should probably look at "Googling it," too (3, Interesting)

Hottie Parms (1364385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543762)

The phrase "Google it" is used in common society as well, but who knows where the search engine giant will be 50 years from now?

Yes, it's a dictionary word, but one nice thing about these news institutions is that they provide a central archive of history and major events. Tweet is far more obscure and should be considered no different. Stick to professional language, please.

Of course, if somebody from the future looks back at newspapers from this time, they'll think that people like Lindsay Lohan were at the top of world-wide Monarchy....but that's beside the point.

Re:They should probably look at "Googling it," too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543938)

The phrase "Google it" is used in common society as well, but who knows where the search engine giant will be 50 years from now?

Even so, the typical writer would not use "Google" as a verb in a formal context. They would say "do a Web search" or "use Google", much like the Times editor's suggestion of '"use Twitter" ... or "a Twitter update."'. I agree with the underlying sentiment that, while it's fine for companies to make up proper nouns to name themselves, we shouldn't go along with it when they try to toss new verbs into our language as a part of their branding.

He is right (2, Insightful)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543770)

It is sloppy journalism. Being able to read and understand what is written in a newspaper today 100 years from now when "twitter" is something of the distant past is just as important, if not more important then how readable it is to people today. Good journalism seeks to make what is written clear and understandable to anyone who has at least a "basic" understanding of the language. The lazy gits that piss and moan about having to make their wording clear need a lesson in what being a journalist is.

So what? (1)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543776)

There is no story here. This is commonplace. Most organisations that deal in the written word maintain a style guide of prefered spellings, punctuation rules, and choices of words. This is business as usual.

he orders his writers to use alternatives, such as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543800)

"Tweetrolet"

Contradictory (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543818)

But we favor established usage and ordinary words

Unless it's one of them new fangled Interweb words, apparently. Like it or not, "tweet" is the established and ordinary term for posting something to twitter.

Who is this guy kidding? (4, Insightful)

kentrel (526003) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543822)

The NYT isn't going anywhere. It may have to evolve to stay afloat, but it'll outlast Twitter for sure. Even if it didn't, it will be better archived for future generations than Twitter will ever be. Digital social media platforms barely last 5 years before their popularity starts to wane. They also have that signal to noise ratio that's a nightmare for any archive or researcher. They also certainly don't have any obligation for fact checking. Fake NYT news stories aside, at least you know a quote is probably a real quote, whether its taken out of context or not is another argument.

Anyone of note still swapping news stories on Friendster? ICQ? Even myspace? Hey remember keyboard cat? Chat roulette?

Twitter has some longevity and will be around for 10 years at least, but I'll give it 3 more until its replaced by a new, better, fad. Actually scratch better. Twitter is inferior to almost every communication medium out there. Lets say, simpler, and by luck, more popular.

I was walking by some laptop users the other day and heard an ICQ "Incoming message" alarm. Lik

Re:Who is this guy kidding? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544124)

Twitter is an excellent form of communication. Concise and only heard by people interested in the person communicating.

Established my ass ... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543832)

internet is anti-establishment, pro-change by its very core. if you cant join it, you lose it. dont worry - youll allow the word 'tweet' when it goes into merriam-webster in 1 to 2 years.

Tweet isn't a word (1)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543836)

It's jargon associated with a product. If someone were drinking mountain dew in a story, would it be reported that they "did the dew"? When anchors read comments off facebook (an idiot practice, but that's beside the point) do they say "Sooperstaar380 facebooked that the policy 'is balls'"? No, they say that "Sumers took sips from a mountain dew as we discussed the project", or "Sooperstaar380 posted the following on his facebook page."
Reporters have shown a tendency to get swept up in the enthusiasm surrounding twitter, but using the company's jargon in reportage is a tacit endorsement of the company, and frankly just reads as unprofessional.

Asking a grammar question (1)

mathfeel (937008) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543878)

When a proper noun is used as a verb, should we still capitalize it? e.g. He Googles a lot of pornography. or What are you tweeting about?

Re:Asking a grammar question (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544056)

According to several sources on dictionary.com, Google is a verb.

Re:Asking a grammar question (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544102)

no.

The revers is also true. Just ebcasue Microsoft chose a common word for their OS, doesn't mean you capatlize it in all cases.

"I looked out of my window to see a bird I had heard tweeting."

Linguistic Progress in Retweet.... (2, Funny)

aapold (753705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543934)

I'll bet people are tweeting this story even now....

More Important Things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543936)

So the NY Times is circling the drain and is about to go under and this is the kind of thing they worry about?

Sounds fair enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32543954)

I'm in the profession of writing, and have to make these kinds of decisions often enough. It's not so much about being paleolithic, but simply looking at how widespread the use of the word is, and how established the word is in society. If it is mainly a geek-word, or a young-persons word, you wouldn't want to use it in a main stream article. If it had gained popularity throughout all generations, you still wouldn't want to use it unless it has become common for several years, proving establishment in the language. (Fads come and go.)

That said, a product or service name representing a wider, generic item is not very unusual in the American English language. Take "Kleenex" or "Clorox", both words that most likely do not make sense outside of America. (For those that live outside of the US, we use "Kleenex" when we refer to tissues, and "Clorox" when we refer to bleach. Yes, they are both specific product trademarks that have entered common usage.) In a more extreme case, in certain areas of the South you may even refer to any type of carbonated drink as a "Coke". So in a truly American way, it doesn't surprise me that NYT writers are using "Tweet" or "Google (verb)" in their writing. It is, however, a bit silly and short sighted, just like Kleenex and Clorox are (or at least were).

Tarzan say.... (1)

GeoSanDiego (703197) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543966)

Had this guy been the arbitrator of new words back in cave man times we would still be all using the same 10 words! (me, you, hello, food, hungry, run, faster, sleepy, horny, headache).

And yet... (1)

magsol (1406749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32543974)

"Tweet" will inevitably find its way into our official vernacular via its inclusion in the dictionary, following other such ridiculous nouns-turned-verbs like "Google", "Facebook", "friend", and "text".

Equal rights for faggots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32544010)

Not on your life. These drains on society should be secluded on an island like the criminals they are.

Get with it man (0, Redundant)

NovaWolf (447511) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544064)

The NYT Editor needs to get into the 21st century. A post to Twitter is a "Tweet".

Re:Get with it man (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544166)

The NYT Editor needs to get into the 21st century. A post to Twitter is a "Tweet".

So what is a post to Slashdot? A "slash" as in "I just read a slash on Slashdot" or "I am just slashing to Slashdot"? While I fully appreciate evolving a language, keeping a certain universality helps to communicate better.

Just sayin.... (1)

GeoSanDiego (703197) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544088)

These newfangled internetty verbs will never last. Just google it if you don't believe me.

Stupid Words and "Paleolithic" Media. (3, Insightful)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544108)

Good on Mr. Corbett. I've held the same view since Twitter came along. "Tweet," "tweeting," "tweeted" - all completely ridiculous words conjured up for no good reason. For that matter, however, I consider Twitter itself to be completely fucking ridiculous, so perhaps my bias runs deeper than simple grammar.

"... Of course, it is also possible that social media sites will elbow paleolithic media into oblivion, and Mr. Corbett will no longer have to worry about word use..."

Nice snarky little jab there, but I find the notion of social networking sites supplanting established mass media and news to be as far-fetched as it is reprehensible. Maybe they work on a grassroots level as a bit of a 'complement' to traditional news, but other than that I see no indication whatsoever of them holding their own vis-à-vis peer review, integrity, fact-checking or social responsibility. If this does indeed happen (personally I believe the submitter was just grasping at straws), I'll hold even less hope for humanity in general than I already do, and that ain't much.

Reducto ad absurdum (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544114)

If I were one of those columnists, I'd find every excuse I could to quote Rockin' Robin: "Love to hear the robin go tweet, tweet, tweet!"

Pretentious bastards (1)

JRHelgeson (576325) | more than 4 years ago | (#32544122)

' After all, he points out, ' ... another service may elbow Twitter aside next year, and "tweet" may fade into oblivion.'

...and we must not use the word DIAL when referring to calling someone, because a push-button touch tone phone may come along and replace the phone dial, and the term "dialing a number" may fade into oblivion.

Damn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32544164)

I was hoping that this was about the NYT no longer reporting *on* or referencing tweets and maybe leading the way back to actual journalism. Oh well.

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