f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 19, 2006

let’s make the word “blawg” obsolete

Filed under: — David Giacalone @ 3:47 pm

Quick Summary: Lawyers don’t need a special word to
designate their weblogs.  Weblog technology is not being
used in any special way at law sites.  No other group or
profession has coined a special word for their category
of weblogs.  By insisting on using the trivializing, confusing
and too-cute word “blawg,” lawyers appear to be elitist, clan-
nish, or childish (likely, all three).  Those who agree can help
stop the terminology from becoming a generally-accepted
part of the English language (and spread worldwide), by not
using the term “blawg” and by declaring their choice publically.


“Whether or not a neologism continues

as part of the language depends on many
factors, probably the most important of which
is acceptance by the public.”
“Words become obsolete or archaic for any
number of Reasons.”
I’ve come to know you as an articulate lover of the English language.
As far as I know, you don’t say “lawgic” or “lawnguage,” drink “lawtte,”
bill clawents, or use Blawk‘s Dictionary. You don’t call lazy associates
“slawkers,”  and have yet to dub Jack Abramoff a “lawbbyist.”

You’re usually a skeptic and no fan of “cute.”  If linguists called their
weblogs “blings” (or argonauts called theirs “blargs”), you’d probably
smirk.  But, no other group uses such verbal oddities in classifying their
weblogs.  So, Ed, why do you, and other otherwise-serious members of
the legal community, refer to law-oriented weblogs as “blawgs?”  Why
take an insider pun by a popular lawyer-webdiva (which should have been
passed around and admired briefly as a witty one-off) and help perpetuate it?

erasingSF ….blawg

In a recent posting (Old Lawyers Have Web Logs), you defended using
the word “blawg” by saying:
–  it “helps communicate the thought”
–  “blog is in the dictionary and “blawg” will soon be, too
– “blawg .. now has almost two million references on Google”
– “the word blawg is pronounced the same as the word blog,
so there is absolutely no confusion in oral communication
– “In the written word, blawg is easily intelligible and conveys
additional meaning to readers and to search engines.”
– “So, if you encounter someone who doesn’t know what blawg
means, kindly tell them to google it.
Let’s take your points on the word blawg one by one:
tiny check It “helps communicate the thought” That simply doesn’t appear to
be true.  Most members of the public are far more likely to think its
a take-off on the incredibly overused “dawg” for dog, rather than a
reference to law-related weblogs.  Insiders know what it is, outsiders
do not and are very likely to view it as adolescent jargon.
tiny check blog is in the dictionary and “blawg” will soon be, too — (a) the point
of this Letter is to show that it is not inevitable nor desirable that
“blawg” become a permanent part of the language; and (b) there are
a lot of nonsense words in the dictionary, but there’s no good reason
why discerning people — especially those who make their living by
artfully employing words — use such words.
tiny check “blawg .. now has almost two million references on Google” This proves
virtually nothing (and note: today there were 1, 510,000 results).  The
top ten results today are instructive.  Eight of the first 9 are for entities
that have a stake in breaking law-related weblogs off from the rest of
the blogiverse.  The other is by law students.  The tenth result suggests
that Nancy Stinson has named her Stark County Law Library weblog a
“blawg,”which is not true. [By the way, there are 2,740,000 results for
dawg” today at Google.  Should p/i lawyers start looking for dawg-bite
dog black
tiny check “the word blawg is pronounced the same as the word blog, so there
is absolutely no confusion in oral communication” — Just like there’s no
confusion when we speak of “aural” communication?  Frankly, I was
surprised to read that you pronounce “blog” and “blawg” in the same
way (as, apparently, does Trevor Hill).  That underscores the notion
that the word is just an insider gimmick, because the two words don’t
need to be homophones. Merriam-Webster online, for example, does not
pronounce “blog” in a manner that makes it homophonic with “blawg.”
At M-W, the “o” in “blog” is pronounced like the “o” in mop, which is
quite distinct from the “aw” in “law.”
follow-up: See our January 24, 2006 post “speak blawg?” for a linguistic look at such blended words.

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