The BBC takes a look at how Twitter has made an impact on the English language, spawning an entire legion of new words that play off the name of the social network – specifically the first two letters.
Examples include Tweeple, meaning a person who uses Twitter (and is a portmanteau of the words Twitter and people), Twagiarism (Twitter and plagiarism) and Twittiquette (Twitter and etiquette).
Yes: it’s all very horrible indeed.
With almost no shame, the BBC even suggests a top ten.
- Tweeple: users of Twitter, or a user’s followers (also “tweeps”)
- Tweetup: a real world gathering of Twitter users (pre-Twitter term “meatspace”)
- Twisticuffs: a verbal argument conducted via tweets
- Twitterrhoea: overuse of social media
- Tweet Cred: social standing on Twitter
- Twelete: removing a previously-published tweet
- Twirting: philandering in 140 characters or fewer
- Tweme: a popular idea (meme) on Twitter
- Twittiquette: the social norms of micro-blogging
- Twebinar: a “web seminar” using Twitter
Ugh. I mean, Twitterrhoea? Really?
So, why has this happened? Why has it been allowed to happen? While this trend certainly isn’t unique to Twitter, in this case it might have something to do with English-speakers love of words that begin with ‘tw’.
Flick through a dictionary and you’ll notice something about the English language’s “tw” words. There are a few related to “two”: twin, twelfth, twilight and so on. And there’s a tiny minority of what you might call fairly sensible words: tweezers, twig and of course tweed.
The rest tend to be of a type that’s more playful or, depending on taste, more grating. “Tw-” words can be about inanity or ignorance: twit, twerp, twonk or twaddle.
They can suggest lightness, smallness or delicacy: tweak, twiddle or twinkle. Or they can flag up that you’re being self-consciously old-fashioned: ’twas and ’twere, ‘twixt and ‘tween. All very twee.
Quite. I have to say I find this sort of thing really quite ghastly, and loathe the use of such bastardizations of the Queen’s English (God bless you m’am), feeling about as warmly towards them as I do the use of other (frustratingly commonplace) internet slang terms such as LOL and ROFL. And text speak.
(Cue some wag using one or more of these words in the comments. Go on – I’ll wait.)
Of course, much as I despise this sort of thing, it isn’t aimed at my generation. It’s not meant for me. I am, after all, not too far off the wrong side of a hip replacement and walking with a cane. It’s for the kids, innit? They lap up internet slang as readily as they do a fresh bag of Haribo.
Which is why there are fewer things in life that make you cringe more than otherwise-intelligent adults who behave in the exact same way. And that goes double for the Haribo.