Sunday, June 13, 2010

New York Times not using "tweet"

Back when I was weighing the pros and cons of Twitter, I said:

One of the things that's most kept me from using Twitter is the word "tweets." Anytime the topic of Twitter comes up, the word "tweets" isn't far behind. It sounds like a word you might come up with if you wanted to make a website appealing to 10-year-olds. But I just feel embarrassed when I hear adults talking about their "tweets." So while I might keep using Twitter, I'm not going to talk about "tweets."
The New York Times apparently agrees with me, having just made this an unofficial editorial policy. The Times' "standards editor" sent this memo to staff (via Metafilter):
Some social-media fans may disagree, but 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.

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.

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. . . .

Someday, “tweet” may be as common as “e-mail.” Or another service may elbow Twitter aside next year, and “tweet” may fade into oblivion. (Of course, it doesn’t help that the word itself seems so inherently silly.)

“Tweet” may be acceptable occasionally for special effect. But let’s look for deft, English alternatives: use Twitter, post to or on Twitter, write on Twitter, a Twitter message, a Twitter update. Or, once you’ve established that Twitter is the medium, simply use “say” or “write.”
I agree with all that.

So, is it OK for the NYT to include "K thx bye" in a headline? (Again, credit goes to Metafilter for that catch.)


Jason (the commenter) said...

JAC was writing about this in March of '09, and he's not the first. How dare the editorial staff at the New York Times bring this up now. And it's "unofficial"? Screw them, whoever thought this memo was a good idea should be fired.