Like the General Motors executives who banned the use of the word “Chevy,” New York Times standards editor Philip Corbett is trying to deny his own injunction against the use of the word “Tweet.” He did not “ban” the word, he writes on the Times Topics blog ; he simply said that “Tweet”:
should still be treated as colloquial rather than as standard English. It can be used for special effect, or in places where a colloquial tone is appropriate, but should not be used routinely in straight news articles.
Why is the Times’ in-house usage expert running away from his forthright “should not be used”? “Routinely” is an odd and meaningless piece of equivocation; words occur in sentences in stories in the newspaper one at a time, and that is where writing and editing decisions find them.
Corbett also pleads that he is too ineffectual to ban anything:
Regular readers of After Deadline know I seldom attempt to ban anything outright — partly to leave room for editorial judgment, and partly to avoid demonstrating how little effect these memos really have.
What’s infuriating about all this modesty is that “Tweet” deserves to be banned, for precisely the reasons Corbett says it does: it is a colloquialism, a neologism, and a piece of jargon. It is a stupid, unnecessary, trivial word, and it makes the writing in which it appears seem stupid and trivial.
The “Tweet”-loving people who mocked Corbett for his initial memo are cretins. It’s a pity the Times doesn’t have the guts to stand up to them.