Grammar Rules for Twitter (Eventually)

Since it’s been almost two months since I’ve talked about microblogging site Twitter, I suppose it is time to go to the old war horse again. This time I want to discuss the language and grammar of Twitter and how with the help of a new non-profit could actually become codified.

On the Get Satisfaction message boards for Twitter I had posted a call for a Twitter grammar guide, or at least some official guidelines from the company. After a couple of bumps to get the subject noticed a friendly fellow user added what she had done as a presentation for work to get her company on board with Twitter. While it was a nice gesture and I agree with her conclusions, it lacked the official response for which I was hoping.

To quote her response here:

“I made this for a presentation at work:

Twitter = Platform
Twit = One who Tweets
Tweet = What the Twit is doing
Tweeps = Your favorite Twits
Tweeted = What the Twit did

“A twit is one who tweets on Twitter with their Tweeps” “

While I’m not very keen on Twit being someone who Tweets, the logical alternatives I’ve come up with aren’t very good either. (Twitterer? Tweeter? Twitter user?)

It is worth mentioning that this is not merely a semantic exercise as you can see how the grammar of Twitter can lead to embarrassment in this Stephen Colbert appearance on Today.

So what will save us from this grammatical abyss? A wiki, of course. The Microsyntax organization is hoping to solve these issues with their new wiki at http://microsyntax.pbworks.com/.  This wiki is a bit different from something like Wikipedia in that they are hoping that discussion will take place in the background before edits of people’s pages are done. I fear that this model may stifle the growth of the page, as I wonder how many people are going to be interested in doing the work necessary to succeed in “identifying, researching and finding consensus on information syntax.”

I do wish them luck, though and since they did get a posting about the effort on TechCrunch that may go a long way in getting them the attention they need to make this a success.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments and if you want to follow me, I’m @dustin_gervais on the site.

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