Tweeting with tweople: Twitter spawns new vocabulary
Published Thursday, April 2, 2009 5:48PM EDT
MONTREAL - Twitter is so twendy.
The microblogging service has spawned a vocabulary all its own, with words such as tweople (Twitter-speak for people), twirting (flirting) and tweeps (friends) showing up in tweets (posts, which must be under 140 characters).
There's also twitterhea -- the unstoppable urge to tweet.
The lingo makes Twitter users feel like they're part of a community, says assistant professor Jennifer Clary-Lemon of the University of Winnipeg.
"Only the people in the club are going to care about the secret handshake," says Clary-Lemon, who teaches in university's department of rhetoric, writing and communications.
The invented words really roll off the tongue, thanks to the tw at the start of them, she adds. It's a word-making advantage that Twitter has over two other popular social networks, Facebook and MySpace, Clary-Lemon notes.
U.S. marketing expert Greg Verdino says he believes one of the earliest made-up Twitter words was "tweetup," which refers to meeting someone in the real world.
"I actually met my girlfriend on Twitter," says Verdino, who has been tweeting for the last two years. "We call ourselves tweethearts."
Social commentator Hal Niedzviecki says very few of these Twitter words will last and questions whether the microblogging service itself will be around in 10 years.
"I definitely have the feeling that Twitter is more fad than function," he says from Toronto.
But even if Twitter dies out, the idea of constantly sending out messages won't go away and will remain a form of entertainment, says Niedzviecki, author of the soon-to-be released "The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors."
Meanwhile, Twitter neophytes in need of linguistic help can go to the online twictionary at http://twictionary.pbwiki.com/.
And at least one Twitter user is tired of the trend and announced he was creating a new word: "Twatting -- the act of obsessively replacing real-life words with make-believe Twitter words."