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To Twitter or to Tweet?: When Will We Seem as Quaint as They All Do?

by Daryl Plummer  |  September 1, 2009  |  5 Comments

Have you noticed the outmoded forms of speech that just litter our modern world? Do you remember your grandparents talking about when their grandparents first got one of those new “horse-less carriages”? Or maybe your parents remember a time when their parents talked about going to a movin’-picture? Still not close enough? How about the people we have all seen who still call CD’s and MP3’s “albums” – or worse yet – “records”?

Well, people tend to hang onto the concepts they grew up with and still use the same words even when confronted with a new reality. Really!  I mean, I had a friend of a friend ask me recently if I still used “record players” when I said I have a collection of 200 gram LPs for my high end stereo system (My not-inexpensive VPI turntable with digital speed control is still insulted at that). But now-a-days (note the outmoded form of “today”), people are starting to just use the words in whatever way comes easiest to mind. And the latest form of this seems to be all the odd uses of the word twitter floating about.

Have you heard these?

“I twittered last night about my son’s graduation.”

Or, “My friend Beth is a big time twitterer”.

Or, how about “My kids are always twitting about nonsense” – thanks, dad.

Well, I have heard them all and more.

So I was all ready to get outraged and then I did a search of the Web. Why outraged, you ask? Well, that’s because I learned early on that the verb form of the word “Twitter” is to “Tweet”, not to “Twitter” and it always annoyed me when people said it wrong. But then, low and behold (outmoded form of “check this out”), my web search showed me a funny thing. The Free dictionary defines twitter and “twittered”, and “twittery”, and “twitters”, and “twittering” – all with not one mention of the social networking site for which “tweeting” is the normal form of communication. Now ain’t that a hoot (wow, two outmoded words in one sentence!).

That was a not so subtle reminder that the word “twitter” (in all its forms) has been around a lot longer that social networking sites; and people have used it without any troubles so far (It was also a not so subtle reminder that dictionaries need to update their definitions more often). And, it does mean that saying “I twittered” is actually grammatically correct, even if it is not socially adept.

So, it seems that we can either accept the real English words defined in the free dictionary and use them as we wish to refer to Twitter (the site), or we can be rigid and insist that all the hip-kids (need I say more about outmoded forms of words?) use “tweet” properly. Now that is either cute, or quaint, or annoying as hell depending on the degree to which some combination of the words “retentive” and “anal” make you giggle like Beavis – or is it Butthead?

So, I am putting my annoyance back in my “waste of time” box and getting back to drawing another cartoon strip – probably about Twitter. Besides, I have come to the realization that, one day, we will all sound as quaint as those people who still say – “I have to get home in time to tape my favorite program.” Never mind that there is no tape involved with a digital video recorder and never mind that we can set the danged things to record from our iPhones without going home anyway.

But I leave you with a warning. Generation gaps can be propagated faster on social networking sites. So, if you should find yourself on twitter, tweeting about how cool you are while using the wrong words (that show how cool you aren’t) – you may find yourself feeling just a little bit like – a “twit”.

Oops. Sorry about that, gosh-darn-it.

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Daryl C. Plummer
Managing VP & Gartner Fellow
18 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Daryl Plummer is vice president, chief of Research and chief Gartner Fellow. Mr. Plummer manages the Gartner Fellows Program, which is designed to allow senior analysts the opportunity to explore new research ideas and to elevate… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on To Twitter or to Tweet?: When Will We Seem as Quaint as They All Do?


  1. […] Excerpt from:  To Twitter or to Tweet?: When Will We Seem as Quaint as They All Do? […]

  2. Erin White says:

    Aw, c’mon Daryl – “album” does not translate exclusively to “vinyl disc upon which music is recorded”. You can have an album of music, an album of photographs, an album of autographs… broadly, it means “collection”. And iTunes still labels the button “Add Album” when you want to buy the whole collection.

    What really irks me is the “e” in Twitter. Flickr, Tumblr… shouldn’t it be “Twittr”? I think this is about to ruin my life…

    ;P

  3. LOL, Erin. I agree that the word Album can apply to any collection of music or photos but the use of the term also implies other things. It implies cover art and that you get all of the songs in the collectiion and that the songs come from one artist or group. Many kids today buy songs (or MP3s), not albums. Album sales have dropped steadily since online sales of music began. Now they actually sell “collections” (rather than albums) because people want to buy colelctions of songs from multiple artists. But your point is well taken. 🙂

  4. Amy Lipton says:

    Have you ever looked up dynamicity in the urban dictionary? You may never use the word again.



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