23 April 2009

On Current Twitter Lingo

I love Twitter. In fact, I've been using it for about 2 years now. Its great, fun and allows me to share the morsels of what I consider interesting things about my life with others in much the same fashion that my blog does. Unfortunately, most of the interesting things that happen to me I either a) forget by the time I get to sit in front of my computer to write it, or b) they are too small to devote an entire post on and clutter up my blog. However, there has been a trend on Twitter recently that I feel needs to end before it gets so annoying that people abandon Twitter altogether.
Due to the recent rise in Twitter users (which, since Oprah has signed on has risen if more significantly), more creative ways of using Twitter have come about, but with that "creativity" comes those who unknowingly (or knowingly) have come to destroy the integrity of Twitter. Twitter was initially designed to allow you to tell everyone what you were doing at that instant in time. Since then, it has allowed much more things, including instant news headline notification to satisfy our "on-demand" needs in this day-and-age. Cramming thoughts and phrases into 140-character morsels have resulted in creative structuring of phrases, words, and links to media, much the same way text messaging has done. And with all of this came an initial set of terms to denote certain things - a standard established by the founders of Twitter to avoid confusion. In fact, this vocabulary is published on their site as a sort of "word of the day" type deal when you use their website. But in the midst of all the excitement, something happened and words started to change, oftentimes for the worse. And I'm not the only one to notice the problem: Leo Laporte and Microsoft Xbox's Major Nelson have complained among many, many others.
For example, this person prefixed many words with "tw" similarly to how you'd affix "-ay" in Pig Latin: "I'm twittering about twones while twibing on twibes, I twink my twobile twone is twinging." Now, I can somewhat understand what he's talking about, but what the heck is "twibing on twibes"? Its horrible, and sounds like we've all gone back to talking like little 2-year-olds with a speech problem! Lets not forget the amazingly annoying "tweeple", "tweeps", or (God forbid) "twits" instead of "twitterers". Yes, some of the original lingo is longer, but people, make it easy for others to understand! Also, "twits" usually has a negative connotation, much the same way "twat" does (but not as severely).
But what about words like "Twitterific", "Twobile", or even "Twhirl"? Its quite easy: they're names. They were made up to signify a specific item or brand, much like the names of many real-world products we use today are constructed. Are they exceptions? Yes, and like in every language, there will always be exceptions to the rule, but those exceptions are small in number. But constructions with "tw-" or some other combination should be left for proper nouns and names and not for everyday verbs, nouns, or any other construction. It'd be a lot easier to work with Twitter then, and the people who don't use Twitter won't view users as idiots.
Off the top of my head, here is just a small dictionary of words that I commonly see in some other "improper" form:
  • "tweet"/"tweeting" - Like birds that tweet, every update is a "tweet" and the act of making a "tweet" is "tweeting," (past tense "tweeted") but not "twittering", "twitting", or in the past tense "twoted". Hell, even a "chrip", "chirping" or "chirped" is fine! Its regular English!
  • "twitterers" - People who use Twitter are not "twits", "tweeple", "tweeps" or whatever other bastardization of standard English. I'd even accept "birds", but not "twirds".
  • "re-tweeting" - similar to forwarding an email, forwarding a tweet is "re-tweeting" (and you should always give credit to the person who originally wrote it, not people who kept passing it down the line). You can abbrieviate it "RT" or "Retweet" when actually using it. They're de-facto standards.
When Twitter began, it was good and these rules were informally enforced. But now, well, things have gotten quite out of hand. Lets try to stick to these rules and maybe use Twitter slang sparingly - and I mean very sparingly. Then Twitter might be taken a little more seriously as a significant means of communication in this digital age.

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