AP Stylebook Issues Half-Correction for Flawed Twitter Entry

Posted on June 15, 2009 by Comments Off

Micheal Foley, Content Editor

AP StylebookIt didn’t take long for the folks in charge of the AP Stylebook to see the error of their ways.

Late last week, they issued a new entry for Twitter that just wasn’t quite right. The entry proclaimed, “The verb is to Twitter or to Tweet. A Twitter message is known as a Tweet.”

Over the weekend, AP Stylebook has come to its senses … sort of.

Today the monolithic authority on style and usage for all serious mainstream journalists in the United States issued the following correction:

“Editor’s Note: The Twitter entry has been corrected to say that to tweet as a verb and a tweet as a noun should be lowercase.”

Bravo! Thanks for being receptive to the feedback and making a swift change to your flawed entry.

But, hold on! The new entry still lists “to Twitter” as a verb. That’s just plain bad English. Of course we capitalize proper nouns, but there’s no such thing as a proper verb.

Of course, the AP Stylebook is set up (as is any dictionary) to list the acceptable usages in order of how common they are. I would argue that “to tweet” is used dozens, if not hundreds of times more often than “to twitter.” Therefore, “to tweet” should be listed as the first verb in the entry.

If I were to rewrite that part of the entry myself, it would say, “… The verb is to tweet or to twitter. A Twitter message is known as a tweet.”

Once they finally have the Twitter terminology and the technical aspects of the English language correct, maybe they could turn to a more accurate description of the Twitter service’s capabilities.

The AP Stylebook entry says it is “a community-based message-distribution system that allows users to post continual status updates of up to 140 characters detailing their activities for followers.” As any serious user knows, Twitter is capable of much more than just that.

Let’s see how long it takes for the AP Stylebook to make those changes.

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