New York Times bans the word 'tweet'

The New York Times has banned the word 'tweet' from its pages, when used to describe posts on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

In a move not seen since King Canute's seaside exploits, the NYT's standards editor, Phil Corbett, has attempted to turn back the tide of English usage by laying down the law to writers and sub-editors at the paper.

A finger-wagging Corbett explained his dislike of the term in a memo leaked to culture blog The Awl.

"Some social-media fans may disagree, but 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," Corbett explained in considerably more than 140 characters.

"Except for special effect," the NYT's grammar tsar chirped, "we try to avoid colloquialisms, neologisms and jargon. And 'tweet' - as a noun or a verb, referring to messages on Twitter - is all three. Yet it has appeared 18 times in articles in the past month, in a range of sections."

"Of course, new technology terms sprout and spread faster than ever. And we don't want to seem paleolithic. But we favor established usage and ordinary words over the latest jargon or buzzwords."

Corbett has a point – of sorts. While 'tweet' may be on the lips of just about every internet-savvy geek at the moment, who knows how long that will last?

"Someday, 'tweet' may be as common as 'e-mail'," opined Corbett. "Or another service may elbow Twitter aside next year, and 'tweet' may fade into oblivion."

As yet, it's unclear exactly how NYT staff are supposed to refer to the micro-blogging-posts-formerly-known-as-tweets.

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