Friday, June 5, 2009

Geoffrey Nunberg on Twitter

Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg comments on Twitter:

The English sentence has done very well for itself over the last thousand years or so, and it's not about to autodestruct because kids have suddenly started to text message each other rather than passing notes under their desk. In fact, what we're taught in school — the gospel according to Strunk and White — is to be concise. What imposes more constraints of conciseness than Twitter? So in that sense, Twitter could be the greatest thing that's happened to English since print.

Interview: Geoffrey Nunberg (Mother Jones)
My 140-character reduction:
Kids texting rather than note-passing won't ruin the sentence. Strunk & White = concision = Twitter! Greatest thing for English since print?

comments: 5

Matt Thomas said...

That's a pretty good "tweet," actually. Have you thought about -- you know -- joining Twitter?

Michael Leddy said...

I like the idea of arbitrary constraints (as with Oulipo), but no, Twitter isn't something I want to do. It's just not for me, or vice versa.

Matt Thomas said...

It's not for everyone, that's for sure, but if your example tweet is any indication, I think you'd be good at it.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Matt. If I were to do Twitter, I know I'd be aiming for 140 characters each time, just for the sport of it.

Unknown said...

As a freelance writer, I've found Twitter to be very beneficial to my style. By having that 140 character limit, I've had to learn new ways to express thoughts, as well as really think about how I'm phrasing something for the most impact (obviously I don't just Tweet about what I'm having for lunch).