What do you, dear reader, call a posting on Twitter? I'm guessing the chances are high that you call it a tweet, like pretty much everyone else I know. Apart from the editorial elite at the New York Times that is, which has just banned the word 'tweet' from being used in conjunction with anything other than birds making chirpy noises, on the grounds that it is a silly word amongst other things.
According to reports the New York Times has sent a memo out to contributors asking them not to use the word tweet, in which a man with the title of 'standards editor' says: "outside of ornithological contexts, “tweet” has not yet achieved the status of standard English" and insists that "standard English is what we should use in news articles".
Phil Corbett, the standards editor in question, then goes on to justify his assertion with some nonsense about favouring established usage over jargon, and how regular people using Twitter would not use the word. Really? I think Mr Corbett might be surprised, if he actually bothered to ask a bunch of Twitter users about this, as to just how many of them do. However, the really telling bit, I feel, comes towards the end of the memo when Corbett admits that "Of course, it doesn’t help that the word itself seems so inherently silly".
The official advice from the New York Times appears to be to use the words 'say' or 'write' which is odd, if the standards editor really wants to avoid confusion, as I don't think anyone actually 'says' anything on Twitter unless you include offsite links to Audioboo recordings...