Friday, June 11, 2010

New York Times bans tweeting

The New York Times remains a stout defender of proper English, even if its sports pages insists on using the ghastly American word "winningest" for the most successful teams (I'm not joking about that, as this story shows).

This week an edict was sent out to their writers from the NYT's "standards editor" banning the use of the verb and noun "tweet". Outside of an ornithological context, that is.

"Tweet", according to their style guru Phil Corbett, "has not yet achieved the status of standard English ... except for special effect, we try to avoid colloquialisms, neologisms and jargon. And 'tweet', referring to messages on Twitter, is all three".

He goes on to suggest "deft, English alternatives" such as "use Twitter or write on Twitter". One day, he concedes, "tweet" may become as common as "e-mail", but then again it may fade into oblivion. "It doesn’t help that the word itself seems so inherently silly," he writes.

I think Mr Corbett may be my favourite American. Now if only he can change their rule on "winningest"...


Angus Donald said...

I dunno about banning "tweet". I'm with you on "winningest" – it's horrible. But there is nothing wrong with a neologism once it has gained sufficient currency: new technologies require new vocabulary. So I say the NY Times is being unnecessarily hidebound. Tweet me if you agree!

Rich Abbott said...

I take it from this that you wont be joining Twitter in a hurry?!

I joined a few months ago, which was probably inevitable from the minute I declared I never would. I've found it good for keeping up with (most of) my favourite journalists, but the shocking spelling/grammar does grate a bit. Shane Warne is the worst offender - there are some things that even a 140 character limit can't excuse!