back to article New York Times bans 'tweet'

Writers at the New York Times were recently requested to stop referring to Twitter updates as "tweets" by the Gray Lady's standards editor, Phil Corbett. With the internet causing radical upheavals in newspapers across the world, it is reassuring to find at least one that's prepared to stick to its guns. In an electronic mail …


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  1. Chris Stephens


    At least SOMEONE in the news world actually cares about language..

    Reading popular web site news like CNN is just horrible. It seems there is no proof reading at all. Sentences slapped together wrongly, misspellings, horrible grammer and a complete lack style.

    They edit stories as a story progresses rather then writing a new story on a new development. This leads to a story with facts that are days old and now incorrect. Usally the top of the story has the current facts but by the end of the story its left overs from days previous.

    This has spread to many news outlets.

    El Reg however is just awesome. Well written, awesome style... It shines above most news outlets..

    1. Anonymous Coward


      ... I hate bad grammer. It's nearly as bad as poor speling.

      1. Just Thinking


        A complete lack style is worse then no proof reading at all.

  2. Wallyb132

    Good for NYT...

    I've always hated twitter! my hatred is based solely on its name, i've never used the service, nor will i. I have a firm belief that if a service has a silly, or in my view, a retarded name, then its users should be aptly named, no funny business here, no clever play on words allow just because you didnt think the name of your service through, no sir. If the service is named twitter then its users are twits.

    That is all...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re : Good for NYT..

      I think the 'i' in twits should be replaced by the first vowel - that would more adequately sum up some of the users.

    2. King Edward I

      Good good...

      Hope you don't use Google, Yahoo or Bing then, 'cos their names are just as silly!

    3. Barney Carroll
      Thumb Up


      I saw the name Wally and stopped reading. Sorry, am I being unconscionably asinine again?

      NYT is playing to its strengths. As pointed out in the conclusion, papers can't vaguely wander into competing territory/format/language with the ever-faster web without signing off their relevance. Nor should they. NYT is a universal & timeless paper. It shouldn't alienate swathes of its audience by playing up to recent faddish lingo.

  3. Tristan Young

    Tweet tweet!

    Tweet tweet tweet.

    Is this for real? This is why newspapers are going the way of the dodo bird (tweet tweet).

    Tweet this: NYT is for old fogies that aren't up to using the same lingo the rest of the world is using.

    I'm glad the rest of us are willing to stick with the times and the lingo. You know how the old saying goes, "When in Rome".

    1. Pavlovs well trained dog


      Young Tristan me lad..

      The impetuousness of youth..

      Reminds me of the swarms of Italians who visit my home (Amsterdam) - all wearing the same standard issue uniform - shiny black jacket and G-Star denims. All, of course, to show their unique individuality.

    2. pedrodude

      Communication breakdown

      So while we're all "tweeting" each other, people somewhere else will be "buzzing/facebooking/boinging/flarking/fucking" each other, while intrinsically WE'RE ALL DOING THE EXACT SAME THING BUT WE WON'T KNOW IT BECAUSE WE ALL CALL IT SOMETHING DIFFERENT YET EQUALLY MORONIC.

      Are you familiar with this lingo?: @TristanYoung You are an ignoramus. plz RT


  4. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Let me wrap my mind around this.

    A British tech magazine* is mocking an American newspaper for defending proper use of the English language.

    I think the universe might collapse under that one.

    *Yes, I recognise that the author is from Cali. It still hurts my mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It's almost a title

      Yes, but it's not proper English, it's American English so offending it doesn't really count. The honourable thing to do would be to consign both Twitter and Colonial English to the waste disposal of history.

  5. Richard Freeman
    Thumb Up

    They're right of course

    The verb for using Twitter should be to "Twit" which sums it all up very nicely really....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Well, I do believe that the correct grammatical collective noun for those who write on Twitter is a 'twat' of tweeters.

      No joke icon. I'm quite serious.

    2. Cortland Richmond
      Thumb Up

      Gort MY vote!

      But I also think Morse Code is good enough...

  6. Jeremy 2

    Grammar fail

    "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."

    Before he starts rattling on about standards, perhaps Mr. Corbett should remember that starting a sentence with a conjunction is generally considered to be jolly bad form. If he had done it just once, I wouldn't say anything but five of his sentences start with 'and', 'but' or 'yet' (in its conjunctive form).

    I can hear my old English teacher shouting at him now.


    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      A little knowledge.

      "Mr. Corbett should remember that starting a sentence with a conjunction is generally considered to be jolly bad form"

      Nope, the "and" at the beginning of a sentence that your English teacher gave out about is the one that is used to string unrelated sentences together ("We went to the beach. And we had ice-creams. And we saw a shark. And there was a helicopter. And a man hanging from the helicopter was eaten by the shark. At it was on the internet the next day"). Here, Corbett is using "and" for emphasis. And he's correct in doing so.

      As a bonus nitpick, yes you can, and should, end English sentences with a preposition where that preposition is part of a phrasal verb. Otherwise, you get "This is precisely the sort of pedantry, up with which I will not put". Don't try to apply Latin grammar to a Germanic language, even a Germanic language with a French bodykit...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      There is nothing wrong with using a conjunctive at the start of a sentence

      The 'old' before 'English teacher' says it all, it is an old belief which is incorrect, there is not reason not to use 'but and 'and' at the start of sentences. Read any newspaper column or journal and you will see the technique used numerous times.

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        @AC 09:57

        But what you're implying is that newspaper reporters, journalists and random website bloggers are the 'authority' on correct construction of sentences.

        And there are many well established 'authorities' on this matter, with much better academic reputations. So I'd suggest a different justification.

      2. frank ly Silver badge


        ......and Scandinavian seats :)

      3. Jeremy 2

        @AC 09:57...

        "There is nothing wrong with using a conjunctive at the start of a sentence"

        Quite right, it is considered acceptable these days but only on occasion. To start successive sentences with conjunctions, on the other hand, is still bad grammar, is bad for readability and generally makes the passage sound like it was penned by a five year-old.

  7. Retired Geek

    Personally, I use "twit".

    While I can admire the attempt by the NYT to maintain some semblance of good language style, they should accept that we're not the French and our language does grow by the words people create to accommodate new experiences and technologies.

    That said, I've long felt that Twitter had it right when they named themselves.

    Birds tweet, twits twitter, and one who twits is a twitter.

  8. raving angry loony

    works for me

    At least users of twitter can still be called "twits".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of people hyphenate "e-mail"

    It helps distinguish it from "email" (a process for colouring porcelain).

    But seriously, I looked into it a while ago and there seemed to be as many UK newspapers mandating "e-mail" as mandating "email".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Posters would do well to remember that the New York Times also prescribes that acronyms must be properly punctuated. It is, of course N.Y.T. and never NYT. Even their U.R.L. is W.W.W.N.Y.T.COM.

    Not that I'm suggesting the paper is at all anachronistic you understand.

  11. Tony Paulazzo

    I'm sorry.

    >Sentences slapped together wrongly, misspellings, horrible grammer and a complete lack style.<

    Sentences slapped together badly, misspelt, terrible grammar and a complete lack of style.

    There, I feel better now :) Flame on!

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Too hasty there

      > >Sentences slapped together wrongly, misspellings,..... <

      This is fine actually because he is giving a list of 'things' or 'actions'. To rewrite it according to your interpretation, it would be better as:

      "Sentences slapped together wrongly and misspellt, horrible grammar......"

      or "Sentences slapped together wrongly, misspellt; horrible grammar....."

      I'm not sure why you replaced 'horrible' with 'terrible', since he is stating HIS feelings about the grammar and only he can know the horror/terror that he feels. I think it's unlikely that anyone would feel terror at all this but I can imagine the horror it would induce.

  12. jake Silver badge

    The only question in my mind is ...

    Will ElReg ban me for kill-filing everything with "[Tt]witter" in the URL?

    I'm squinting at YOU, hardware ...

  13. Not Terry Wogan

    Good for Mr Corbett!

    Nice to see your work in the Register again, Kieren!

    You might well take the piss out of Corbett, but I think he's absolutely right. There will always be a market among the discerning for quality, paid-for editorial, but current newspaper executives have to wake up and reverse the decline of quality that has been ever-quickening over the last decade or so; or else there'll be no place for them in the new world order at all. Only the strongest will survive, and unless newspapers can show that they can reliably deliver better editorial quality than free media alternatives, they'll continue to haemorrhage readers.

    One of the ways of ensuring quality is to restrict the use of language to conservative, accessible English. Many readers don't care about technology, and some will be actively frustrated by its faddish jargon. Describing someone as 'posting on Twitter', particularly with the capital T, helps signify that Twitter is some kind of service that people use. Describing someone as 'tweeting' sounds like gibberish to the uninformed. Notable newspapers like the New York Times also have to consider how articles will read in fifty or a hundred years' time. Twitter will be long forgotten, so what does the future reader make of 'tweet'? Will future history books get the wrong end of the stick entirely and have a sarcastic, wry aside describing how people of our era often affected fey bird mannerisms while we talked? (In case any future historians read this, by the way, let me just say: Fuck you, Futureman!)

    You're right about the use of 'e-mail', though. It's ever so terribly old fashioned.

  14. BoredAccountant

    Sit > Sat

    Twit > ????

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As the Private Eye put it a few issues ago

      If I recall it correctly

      referring to the service , a posting, the poster, and the reader response in sequence;

      Twitter, Tweet, Twit, Tw*T

  15. Anonymous Coward


    Indeed, twitter users should at least be called bird brains, twits (or better still swap the "i" with an "a"), and the messages called any suitably derogatory term, like say "linguistic diarrhoea".

    1. Barney Carroll

      Missing the point

      Ah The Register, where people queue up to post inconsequential, immature short non-sequiturs about how much they have inconsequential, immature short non-sequiturs.

      BTW, this was an article about language, and fads in Internet culture neologism.


  16. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I don't call it "tweet"

    I just call it bollocks

  17. Phil Parker


    Anyone who doesn't stick the hyphen in e-mail should have an A-bomb dropped on them.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: e-mail

      Great! Sweet oblivion at last.

      email email email EMAIL.

      1. mmiied


        sarah just take a beep beath and a deep drink and think of the weekend

      2. Trokair 1


        Sorry Sarah, you know you can't get away that easily.

        And as for the story, the only thing that traditional newspapers are still useful for is lining an area to catch the byproducts of a domesticated animal's digestive system. Anything that is that close to the political system of this country is already full of it anyway. I think I can safetly speak for the under 40 crowd when I say that they can stop using any words all together and we wouldn't care.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    It's email not e-mail

    I checked with the highest authority...

  19. nickrw


    Make sure you send me an e-mail to-morrow.

  20. TeeCee Gold badge

    He's contradicted himself too.

    "it doesn't help that the word itself seems so inherently silly".

    That in itself would go a very long way toward making it an entirely justifiable usage.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Twitter users are twits!

    <strike>frist!!!</strike> Seventh!

    I'm so witty.

  22. ravenviz

    Re: New York Times bans 'tweet'

    Corbett: "But we favor established usage and ordinary words over the latest jargon or buzzwords" "buzzword

    1946, from buzz + word. Noted as student slang for the key words in a lecture or reading"

    No doubt NYT did not use buzzwords for some time until they realised it had become part of the English language.

    A simple search:

    Grove Backs an Engineer's Approach to Medicine - Bits Blog ...

    Translational medicine is indeed a big KEY WORD these days. Everyone seems to recognize that there is a gap in getting from “bench to ...

    Findings - Doomsayers Beware, a Bright Future Beckons

    Long before “sustainable” became a KEY WORD, intellectuals wondered how long industrial society could survive. In “The Idea of Decline in ...

    Times Topics: Karl Rove

    of Republican imitators, Democratic vilifiers and, in this election, a term that has reached full-on political KEY WORD status: “Rovian. ...

    Backward, Into The Future - Readers' Comments

    Of course, Freedom is a KEY WORD for those who want it for themselves and their particular lifestyle, but not for others. ...

    You get the idea.

    Also, searching for 'tweet' at their site yields 3920 results!

  23. RyokuMas Silver badge

    Deft English alternatives

    "use Twitter, post to or on Twitter, write on Twitter, a Twitter message, a Twitter update"

    ... make a tw@t - sorry - twit of oneself...

  24. Anonymous Coward


    Ummm. Appreciating that I'm a dinosaur, I still think it's worht pointing out that the twatosphere is still mostly self-serving. There is an enormous demographic out there who feels no need to twit to other twats, or to be tweeted about some twit's twat. For us, the term 'tweet' highlights what a silly hype it is, and how the Twitter fanbois are just a bunch of silly aristotwats.

    Just like the world-changing blogosphere (remember that?)

  25. JShel


    They don't think ROFL is a word either!


  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the word 'microblog'

    Whatever happened to it?

    What word will be used if another microblogging site becomes more popular than twitter?

    ( will never happen right? just like geocit, i mean, myspac, i mean, facebook will always be on top )

  27. 300 words

    Hooray for NYT's

    Well, it is apparent that traditional print media is finding itself in a very sensitive position. New outlets like the Times seem willing to embrace only so much of today’s omnipresent new media technology. Quite frankly, I think it’s somewhat noble of the Times to take a stand against some of the more vapid jargoneeering so common in technology. But what about “re-tweet”?

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