– Tech Connoisseur

Collins English Dictionary’s big publicity stunt

Posted in Uncategorized by Anthony (Tony) Emerson on July 9, 2009

The Collins English Dictionary lost all authority earlier this week when it announced that Twitter (both as a noun and a verb), Twitterati, and Twitterverse will become entries alongside such conventional and long-established terminology as ‘Google.’

collins entry on google - twitter

Collins English Dictionary on Google - Twitter

I guess I missed the memo that announced when company names became dictionary-worthy material. I’d start a petition but I think I’m going to wait for somebody else to do it. I don’t want to be that guy.

But I will take an anti-Collins Dictionary stance on this one. Just because the word Twitter is used in the day-to-day language of many industries (many industries referring to the internet marketers and mainstream media pundits who actually believe it’s the next big thing) does not mean it deserves an entry in a dictionary (even a less-renowned dictionary).

This is almost undeniably a well-played PR stunt that carries not only implications on the quality of HarperCollins as a publisher but also possible consequences to the Twitter brand name.

Outside of the (slim) possibility of brand genericide – which could eventually lead to Twitter losing its trademark rights – this solidifies the company’s choke-hold on the (downright unpopular) wider world of microblogging. Furthermore, it’s assuming that Twitter is still going to exist in its current form in the long run.

Remember when MySpace became a media sensation? Obviously, journalists (and investors) assumed that because of its massive audience, it was going to remain the most prominent social network for years to come. Now MySpace serves primarily as a big billboard for Sacha Baron Cohen’s third of three “foreign weirdo” personalities. I’m just glad Collins English Dictionary didn’t make MySpace a noun and verb.

3 Responses

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  1. Jennifer said, on July 10, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    It is ridiculous, but it does serve to inform some people about what Twitter is. Plus, they can always remove it from future editions.

    Having an entry on Google also makes sense – even though there’s two serious competitors, they still hold all the market share. It’s not like anybody will ever say “just Bing it” or “just Yahoo it.”

  2. Evan said, on July 10, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Although I think ever since words like “bootylicious” and “bling” were inserted into dictionaries all hope was lost in the conservation of conventional diction, I think officially defining these words, and fads like “twitter” (which is exactly what it is, a fad) gives these ephemeral words a since of immortality or historical reference. These words, whether corporately affiliated or not, help to describe an era. SEE: groovy

  3. Tony Emerson said, on July 11, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Absolutely. I guess I’m glad words like “fiddlesticks” are in the dictionary. My beef with it, which I probably should have touched on in the post, is that Twitter is overstated in terms of cultural impact – and overestimated in terms of pervasiveness – by the media. In that sense, the media catapults it into a dictionary-worthy spotlight just by sheer brand mentions, but it’s really just because these media people are the ones who are using it the most.

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