Dislike of blog

A fair number of people dislike the word blog, to varying degrees (from mere disapproval to something approaching full-blown word rage). Some of the objections seem to be mostly visceral, others are backed by reasons.

Of the first sort:

“What’s Lewis Black mad about now?” Larry King asks the Daily Show frequenter and comedian-author-actor, and the answer is: blogs! “I will not blog… I hate the word ‘blog,’ it sounds like a condition.” (link)

Of the second sort, here’s David Giacalone, concerned about the “language legacy” the digital community will leave behind and calling for “an ethics and aesthetics of language creation”:

We have an obligation to craft a nomenclature that makes sense within the context of our langage and that — as much as possible — is aesthetically pleasing (easy on the ears and eyes).

Of course, language must and should evolve, but new words and terminology should be built upon root forms that have some meaning within the history of our language.  “Automobile” made sense (a vehicle that moves by itself — no horses needed, with the root words being the Greek for self and the Latin for move).  “Telephone” has its roots in the Greek words for distant and voice.   Even a techie term like “kluge” has real roots in an actual language, as explained here.  (It’s the German word for clever and is used when one has found a clever, even if homely, way to solve a problem with the tools on hand.)     In contrast, “blog” has no linguistic, historical, or cultural frame of reference.

Perhaps, most teens (or even aging geeks) don’t care whether the jargon they create has lasting linguistic appeal — indeed, they often want to use terminology that is edgy, offensive or cliquish.   But language-lovers and serious users of words should care — as should those who want the new concepts and tools of technology to be readily accessible to a broad public.

There is no good reason to leave a language legacy such as the four-letter word “blog”.

… As new formats and technologies are created, let’s remember that we are also creating and sharing a verbal legacy.   If the goal is better communication that leads to better understanding and wider use of the new inventions, jargon and lingo and four-letter neologisms just won’t do. (link)

To sum up Giacalone’s objections to blog:

1. It’s a neologism, an innovation.

2. It’s a clipping, rather than a word with a proper etymology and morphological strtucture.

3. It’s short (a “four-letter word”, in fact).

4. It’s jargon (or slang).

5. It’s fashionable, especially among the young and the nerds.

(Objections like these are all over the peeve world — trotted out against any number of words, especially verbings, nounings, back-formations, and clippings.)

Since Giacalone wrote, in 2003-04, blog has pretty much carried the day, though there are still people who fastidiously use web journal or web diary instead.

Insofar as Lewis Black gives a reason for his dislike, it has to do with the sound of the word; plenty of other people find its sound troublesome. I see two lines of objection here:

6. It sounds like vomiting. (A number of sites say this.)

7. It evokes associations with other bl- words: blob, blood, blather, blase, blah, blabber, blubber, bloat, etc. (Of course, there are plenty of bl- words that are affectively neutral or positive.)

For many people, these sound-based objections might, of course, be rationalizations for judgments based on considerations like 1-5.

10 Responses to “Dislike of blog

  1. John Lawler Says:

    From http://www.umich.edu/~jlawler/assonances.pdf (p.3):

    BL- 70 words 57 coherent Coherence Level 81%

    1) Fluid (Contained) 20
    e.g, blood blister blast blubber blimp blush blow

    2) Color/Eye 26
    e.g, blaze blot blind blip black blue blond bleach

    Embodied Image: Human Eye (a fluid-filled organ which is
    colored and perceives color)

    (But most likely they’re objecting to sense 3)

    3) Excess (‘too much’) 46
    e.g, blurt blither blur blight blanch blotch blear

    (P.S. For the record, do you say /blɔg/ (as I do), or /blag/?)

  2. arnoldzwicky Says:

    John Lawler: “(P.S. For the record, do you say /blɔg/ (as I do), or /blag/?)”

    In -OG words, i’m mostly an unrounded guy (except in DOG), so it’s /ag/ for me in LOG and BLOG.

  3. mollymooly Says:

    “Weblog” has two one-syllable morpheme components, of which the first is stressed. “Blog” keeps all of the unstressed second component and a segment of the stressed first one.

    This strikes me, rightly or wrongly, as a recent and markedly informal/ludic process. Other examples: [su]burb(s), [ste]roid(s)

    Maybe others have the same impression and let it bug them.

  4. John Lawler Says:

    … and a really unintuitive one, [piz]za (pronounced /za/).

    Of course, I would have thought “roids” was short for hemorrhoids if I’d heard it (those silent Hs are tricky), so my intuitions don’t count for much here.

  5. xyzzyva Says:

    I don’t find the word too distasteful, but I feel awkward each time I use it, and have trouble spitting it out. Instead of “word rage” you might call it “word performance anxiety”.

    For some reason, this is not an issue with the word “blogger”. Perhaps I’m more comfortable with the familiar two-syllable neologisms ending in /ɚ/.

  6. JD (The Engine Room) Says:

    In my opinion, the shortness of the word ‘blog’ is an asset; it lends itself well to compounding, giving us new nouns such as ‘photoblog’.

  7. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To JD (The Engine Room), re blog as an element in composites: some discussion in my “linguablog” posting on Language Log.

  8. Faldone Says:

    My (possibly faulty) memory is that the origin of the word blog was through a reanalysis or the word weblog as we blog. My take on this is that this means that blog started life as a verb and that subsequent incarnations as a noun are a result of the nouning of that verb. My memory (previously suspected of being faulty) also has it that I was opposed in this conjecture by none other than languagehat, which ordinarily would be counted as a strike against me, but I stand fast, grant or no.

  9. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To Faldone: from the OED entries, the noun weblog (a compound of web and log) came first, and the OED treats the noun blog as a shortening of weblog. The whimsical, and deliberate, reinterpretation of weblog as we + blog came along in 1999. Noun and verb uses of blog appeared at virtually the same time (1999), though the OED treats the verb as derived from the noun.

  10. Peeving etc. postings « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] AZBlog, 10/30/09: Dislike of blog (link) […]

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