Install Theme

Posts tagged with ‘hashtag’

Twitter and the Oxford English Dictionary | OxfordWords blog →

Richard Holden of the OED (@rchrd_h) credits me as the first twittered use of ‘hash tag’ and #hashtag, but I’ve been left out of the OED citation itself. Odd, especially since Ben Zimmer came to the same result a few years ago).

Twitter Hints That At-Replies And Hashtags Are About To Be Streamlined →

Charlie Warzel reports on hints and statements of intent at Twitter about moving the ‘arcane’ language of microsyntax (@, #, in particular) down into the infrastructure. He mentions a recent talk by Vivian Schiller:

What will Twitter look like in a year? Two years? A lot less like itself.

At least that’s the impression Vivian Schiller, head of news at Twitter, gave addressing the crowd two days ago at the Newspaper Association of America’s mediaXchange conference in Denver. During her talk, Schiller called at-replies and hashtags “arcane” and hinted that Twitter might soon move them into the background of the service.

When asked about the comments, Twitter replied that Schiller was echoing a similar sentiment that the company’s CEO, Dick Costolo, addressed in a recent earnings call:

By bringing the content of Twitter forward and pushing the scaffolding of the language of Twitter to the background, we can increase high-quality interactions and make it more likely that new or casual users will find this service as indispensable as our existing core users do. And we took initial steps in that direction with the introduction of media forward timelines and in-line social actions in October, and we’re already starting to see early signs that those initiatives are working well.

Unlike Schiller’s, Costolo’s statement makes no specific mention of hashtags and at-replies, suggesting that Schiller may have accidentally hinted at specific targets for upgrade. While it’s not immediately clear how this disappearance would work, it’s possible that at-replies will be auto-replaced by formal Twitter names, like they are on Facebook.

Hiding the # and @ characters would be like a city burying all the electric wires and TV cables so that people can see things better.

Twitter has already done away with explicit retweets (the old RT), and streamlined the way that URLs are handled, so why wouldn’t they want to clear out the unintuitive #hashtags and @mentions?

Hiding the # and @ characters would be like a city burying all the electric wires and TV cables so that people can see things better.

And this is coming from the guy that coined the term hashtag. I would be happy to drop the hash and just have real tags. But we still need to be able to tag tweets, even if we won’t be wasting characters with them. And by making tags real metadata, Twitter may finally get around to treating them as something more than just a # and a string of characters.

Here’s a picture of the explicit @mention being suppressed in an Android experimental app:

Please don’t become a hashtag person.

The First Time I Saw A Hashtag

Benjamin Zimmer  and Charles Carson of the American Dialect Society  have released Among The New Words (American Speech, Vol. 88, No. 1, Spring 2013), and which lays down the lineaments of the invention and naming of the now mainstream hashtag.

Benjamin Zimmer, Charles Carson, Among The New Words

Hashtag represented the third time in the last four years that the WoTY winner has come from the world of technology: tweet was selected for 2009 and app for 2010. The convention of the hashtag (a word or phrase pre- ceded by the hash symbol #) has, since its inception on Twitter in 2007, grown into a powerful organizer for online talk. but beyond simply keeping track of the flow of conversation, the hashtag has been applied to a multitude of other discursive functions, including self-mockery (Ben Zimmer, “#languagenerdalert: A New Tool for Self-Deprecation,” Boston Globe, Sept. 25, 2011, K2).

Befitting such a flexible conversational tool, the term hashtag itself has flourished with multiple meanings. Whereas it has typically referred to a string of characters prefixed by the hash symbol, now it often gets used for the symbol itself. And it has crept into oral use, in a spoken equivalent of the Twitter convention, as in “hashtag fail” or “hashtag Yolo.” Such oral hashtagging, while linguistically notable, does not appear destined for success if it remains a self-conscious callback to the online form. overuse for marketing purposes does little to help the term’s long-term fortunes, either: while hosting the 2013 Grammys, ll Cool j took the trend to absurd levels by using hashtag six times in 20 seconds (“i’ve been backstage reading all your tweets about hashtag Grammys… we’re going to see hashtag Carrie Underwood, hashtag jack White, hashtag Kelly Clarkson, hashtag bruno mars, and hashtag Sting”).

Hashtag also illustrates how even very new terms are prey to faulty or incomplete memories about their origins. While Chris Messina is recognized as the “hashtag godfather” for first proposing the convention in online discussions among early adopters of Twitter in August 2007, he did not come up with the term hashtag himself. Messina made the suggestion of using the hash symbol in a tweet on August 23; two days later, he followed up with a post on his FactoryCity blog in which he dubbed his creation “channel tags” or “tag channels.” Another participant in these early discussions, Stowe Boyd, tweeted his approval on August 25: “I support the hash tag convention.” After that first attributive usage, Boyd continued using the term hash tag (written as two words) on his blog on August 26. Messina and Boyd did not fully recall this sequence of events when asked about it on Twitter. Fortunately, it is possible to reconstruct such cyberhistory thanks to archived tweets and blog posts. 

It’s worthwhile to note that others — like Anil Dash — did recall the sequence of events involved in the reuse of IRC chat tags in Twitter by Chris Messina, and my calling it a hashtag.

It’s also worth noting that Messina and I were involved at the time in a Twitter and blog-based discussion about membership in groups versus what I call ‘groupings’. In a post at the time, Messina specifically referenced my writings on groupings. A grouping is a collection of people that share attributes in common, like the use of a certain tag on their blog posts, or frequent a certain bar, or study a particular martial art. So the set of people that have written about ‘Hemingway’ are a grouping, or those that have tagged a photo ‘Golden Gate Bridge’. So these people form a sort of a group, but one they weren’t invited to: their own actions make them a member of the grouping.

My argument then (see Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings) was that tags in Twitter would wind up being used in the same way: an indication of the nature of the contents of the tweet. But in aggregate, everyone that uses the hashtag ‘TEDx’ are a grouping, and that self-selected identification could be an important cultural marker. And that’s pretty much what happened.

Chris was trying to suggest that tags could be used to direct tweets to specific defined groups of people (‘channels’), more like Google+ Circles than the way that hashtags are generally used. But he is the guy that started the convention, and I completely forgot that I named it, until Ben Zimmer’s research turned it up.

I also coined the term ‘microsyntax’ to represent the use of special characters, acronyms and keywords in Twitter and elsewhere as syntactic markers (like ‘#’, ‘@’, and ‘RT’), but that term hasn’t become widely used.

Here’s the OED-like citation:

hashtag, hash tag, hash-tag 1a: n Word or phrase preceded by a hash symbol (#), included in microblog entries for the purpose of thematically grouping such entries [2007 Aug 23 Chris messina Twitter status/223115412 how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?] [2007 Aug 25 Chris messina FactoryCity (blog)(archived) 2007/08/25/groups-for-twitter-or-a-proposal-for-twitter-tag-channels/ So i think i’ve provided at least a vague overview of this notion of “Tag Channels” and that they’re simply used by prefixing one or more words with the hash (#) character. […] To join a channel, simply add a tag hash (#) like this: #barcamp The grid is open!] 2007 Aug 26 Stowe boyd /Message (blog) http://stoweboyd .com/post/39877198249/hash-tags-twitter-groupings (head & text) hash Tags = Twitter Groupings. / Chris messina has outlined (in a fairly voluminous way) a proposal for the use of hash tags (strings like “#tag”) as a way to help make sense of the noise within Twitter. […] And the use can be either actively putting a hash tag (like “#hashtag”) into a tweet, or more passively opting to follow a stream of tweets related to a tagged theme. 2008 Nov 10 Abbey Klaassen AdvertisingAge50(Factiva) if you’re at an event, you can search on the hashtag to figure out who else is Twittering. 2009 oct 15 Gabriel Snyder Gawker The basic way this works is that you can type a comment, upload a photo, or embed a video into that box up top and it will be published on the site wherever you choose by giving it a Twitter-style hashtag. 2010 july 18 jesse lichtenstein New York Times Magazine 24 (lexisNexis) “What you need is a really good hash tag,” [jared] Cohen said. [¶] After a moment everyone agreed that “#muslimengagement” was too long. 2011 Apr 21 michael Schneider TV Guide Fox began the practice last week with Fringe, and has also started putting hashtags at the bottom of the screen on Glee, Bones and the new Christian Slater comedy Breaking In. 2011 june 12 Ashley Parker New York Times ST1 (lexis- Nexis) This year on Super bowl Sunday, Audi broadcast a new commercial featuring a hashtag, #Progressis, that flashed on the screen and urged viewers to complete the “Progress is” prompt on Twitter for the chance to win a prize. 1b: attrib of hashtag 1a 2007 Aug 25 Stowe boyd Twitter http://twitter .com/stoweboyd/status/226570552 i support the hash tag convention: http:// #hashtag #factoryjoe #twitter 2009 Nov 4 Reuters (press release) -2009+bW20091104 (head & text) eventful launches Standard Twitter hashtag reference index for local events / eventful […] announced the launch of a standard hashtag index for local events, which enables users of Twitter […] to have a common reference point for which hashtags to use when tweeting about events before, during and after they occur. 2010 oct 23 Deborah Francisco During Saturday’s game, fans of the two teams will engage in the Nhl’s first “hashtag battle” on Twitter. 2011 june 16 brian Solis http:// (head & text) The hashtag economy / like popular rT memes on Twitter, the hashtag hand sign flew across the social web fueled by twitpics of what would eventually become the calling card of the “hashtag mafia.” #brilliant. 2012 jan 26 Graeme mcmillan Techland (Time blog) 2012/01/26/hashtag-revolts-show-marketing-doesnt-work-on-social-media/ (head & text) #fail: hashtag revolts Show marketing Doesn’t Work on Social media / After all, how were they to know that any attempt to artificially create a hashtag meme was doomed to failure? 2a: n also hashtag symbol hash symbol (#), as used in a hashtag 1a 2008 Dec 17 lee Aase Social Media University, Global -is-the-in-twitter/ ryan link, a SmUGgle from Virginia, asks… What does it mean/do when a word on Twitter is preceded by a #? Answer: The # is called a hashtag, and is described in detail on the Twitter fan wiki. 2009 jan 23 Social Media World -friday/ if you’ve been on Twitter for any length of time you probably noticed people using the hashtag in their posts. This nearly forgotten symbol is given great power on Twitter to mark posts as searchable. […] Sweet little hashtag, enjoy your new place in the spotlight while ampersand is jealous. 2009 Nov 17 Doug Gross CNN Tech A hashtag is the symbol (#) used on Twitter posts to allow them to be found more easily by other users. 2011 mar 19 Amy harmon New York Times A1 (lexis Nexis) “Take one #sxsw, mix in 3 parts oversharing, 2 parts vanity, and unfol- low liberally,” advised jonathan hersh, 26, a software developer in San Francisco, invoking the hashtag symbol used to categorize tweets so they are easier to search for by subject. 2011 oct 13 Twitter support documentation (archived) entries/49309-what-are-hashtags-symbols The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. 2012 june 25 The Hot Word ( blog) The # sym- bol is commonly called the pound sign, number sign and more recently the hashtag. 2b: n Verbal substitution for the hash symbol (#), as used in a real or hypothetical hashtag 1a when spoken aloud 2009 Nov 21 mariana Wagner myKWblog -i-speak-twitter-you/ i recalled the fact that, when hanging out with other Twitter users irl [in real life], i will actually SAY “hashtag [insert witty phrase here]” to emphasize/categorize something i just said. 2010 oct 18 SayKNOWtoTrivia -horn-pop-culture-references-october-15-2010/ in j.A. Adande’s introduction, he says “hashtag FF” (#ff). 2011 Apr 13 Anna mehler Paperny Globe & Mail (Canada) -debatable-hashtag-fail/article576224/ A press release on the NDP’s [New Democratic Party] website crowed that mr. [jack] layton “scored the signature jab of the night by calling Stephen harper’s crime policies a ‘hashtag fail’ a twitter reference that brought down the house and set the social media world all atwitter.” 2011 june 12 Ashley Parker New York Times ST1 (lexisNexis) “if i was talking to my grandmother, i wouldn’t say, ‘i’m having a hashtag bad day’ because she wouldn’t understand,” said matt Graves, a Twitter spokesman. 2011 july 1 Sugarscape -jonas-pretty-funny Nick[jonas]alsotalksaboutthehashtagphenomenonand how he actually says his hashtags in real life. ThAT we can relate to. We say [“]hashtag just sayin[”] after most declarations more than we care to admit. 2012 Sept 1 rebecca Nicholson Guardian (UK) 25 (Factiva) As Fearne [Cotton] might say, hashtag amaze. 2013 Feb 10 ll Cool j The 55th Annual Grammy Awards CbS ( [ ] i’ve been backstage reading all your tweets about hashtag Grammys. And man, it’s hard to keep up. Things are only going to get busy online, because coming up we’re going to see hashtag Carrie Underwood, hashtag jack White, hashtag Kelly Clarkson, hashtag bruno mars, and hashtag Sting. 3a: vt Add a hashtag1ato(one’scomment(s)) 2008mar24rickTuroczyTwitterhttp:// Ugh. Weekend off from Twitter and i’m forgetting my manners. Should have hashtagged “All hat and no cattle” post #openid 2009 Apr 19 Andrea meeson Sunday Inde- pendent(UK)12(Factiva) Amazon.comwasthesubjectofaviolentTwitterstorm this week (it was “hashtagged” #amazonfail). 2009 Aug 25 jon murray LA Snark (blog) To submit an idea, you just need to type a message on Twitter and hashtag it #myidea4CA. 2011 july 24 jeff jarvis Buzz Machine http://buzzmachine .com/2011/07/24/fuckyouwashington/ Then the mellifluously monikered tweeter @boogerpussy suggested: “.@jeffjarvis hashtag it: #FUCKYoUWASh- iNGToN.” Damn, i was ashamed i hadn’t done that. So i did. 2011 Nov 30 hannah Webster The Minaret (Univ of Tampa) but if you ever feel the need to hashtag something you say out loud, i will go after you. 3b: vt Create a hashtag 1a by adding a hash symbol (#) before (a word or phrase) 2013 jan 14 Paul hammond Twitter “i would hashtag three things in that sentence: #i, #love, and #hashtags, then i’d add #ilove- hashtags too just in case.” 2013 Feb 4 Peter DiCampo Salon .com/2013/02/04/introducing_africa_to_the_omg_crowd/ They hashtag #kenya, and you click it and, in addition to seeing what Kenyans are photographing, you also come across everyday Africa. 4: vi Add a hashtag 1a to one’s com- ment(s) 2008 mar 14 jim long Twitter status/771776995 @Scobleizer shouldn’t you hashtag? #UA1172 ;-) 2008 july 21 Nathan T Wright Twitter status/864197632 if you’re on #rAGbrAi and you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to hashtag! 2012 jan 22 jessica Anderson Columbia (Univ) Spectator (New York) in spite of our wide range of backgrounds and opinions, one distinguishable trait has united us through all that—an irresistible propensity to #hashtag. 2012 Dec 12 joe mandese Online Media Daily article/189069/avails-yes-now-you-can-buy-hashtags-too.html [o]ver time, he says radiumone hopes to integrate with other networks that enable users to hashtag, including Twitter, Pinterest, and instagram. —hashtagging vbl n Adding hashtags 1a to comments [2007 Aug 26 Steven hodson WinExtra (blog)(archived) .com/2007/08/26/ideastreaming-a-concept/ WhileTwitterdoesn’tcurrently have any tagging mechanism that is about to change if folks like Stowe boyd and Chris messina; who are proposing a hash (#) tagging system for the service, get any traction with their idea.] 2007 Dec 18 mark masterson Twitter http:// @monkchips is right. germans seem to do a lot of hashtagging. hmm. mehr logisches denken? wortkargeres volk? #hastags #deutschsprachig 2008 jan 1 ontario emperor mrontemp (blog) .html (head & text) hashtagging Challenges When events occur at Different Times in Different locations / i’ve talked ad nauseum about hashtagging and the way that it can be used to cover disasters (#sandiegofire) and important events (#openworld07). in these situations, hashtagging does an admirable job, since the practice (as well as the tools used to accomplish it) is based on a simple principle—the disaster/event is occuring at the same time for all par- ticipants. 2009 may 18 mark baard Boston Globe b6 (Factiva) And this book [The Twitter Book, by Tim o’reilly & Sarah milstein] is likely to be as good as any at defining tweeting, hashtagging, tweetups and twisting. 2011 Nov 30 hannah Webster The Minaret (Univ of Tampa) 2011/11/30/article20474 like all innovations in social networking, hashtag- ging requires a bit of etiquette. —hashtagged ppl adj 1: (of a comment) including a hashtag 1a 2008 may 24 rick Turoczy Twitter here’s a pipe that will let you track Portland @startupweekend hashtagged tweets via rSS, be they #swpdx or #pdxsw http:// 2008 july 4 Andy mabbett Mabblog (blog) http://pigsonthewing Tags in twitter are pre- fixed with a hash symbol (#), hence the name. A “hash-tagged” message might look like: i live in #england. 2009 may 27 janet K Keeler St Petersburg (Fla) Times 1e (Factiva) hashtagged subjects, when searched, help users find updates. 2: (of a word or phrase) prefixed with a hash symbol (#) to form a hashtag 1a 2011 oct 13 Twitter support documentation (archived) http:// 49309-what-are-hashtags-symbols Clicking on a hashtagged word in any mes- sage shows you all other Tweets in that category. […] hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics. 2013 Feb 4 Peter DiCampo Salon _crowd/ Youstarttolookattheirfriends’photosaswell,andatthehashtagged cities they live in. —hashtagger, hash-tagger n one who hashtags 2008 jan 1 ontario emperor mrontemps (blog) http://mrontemp.blogspot .com/2008/01/hashtagging-challenges-when-events.html What if the events covered by the hashtaggers occur at different times at different locations? 2009 Sept 5 Guardian (UK) 5 (Factiva; subhead & text) hashtagger’s guide to the galaxy. / marvin, the original Paranoid Android, will be tweeting live from october’s hitchcon at the South bank, celebrating the 30th anniversary of hitchhiker’s [Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams]. 2011 jan 9 Sun-Herald (Australia) 13 (Factiva) The announcement, which has sent hash- taggers and music fans alike into a total flurry, was accompanied by a racy new photo of Gaga. 2012 jan 22 jessica Anderson Columbia (Univ) Spectator (New York) Although this trend originated within the realm of Twitter, this innovative tac- tic swiftly spread to inspire users of other social networks to become seasoned hashtaggers, and in this case, the [Columbia Univ class of] 2015ers. 

The Naming Of Things, Like #nemo

The Weather Channel is the one behind the naming of Nemo. It’s not a US Weather service provided name.

Brian Stelter, Winter Storm’s Name Means Very Little

Many reporters and weather experts rolled their eyes at the name, just as they did when the channel’s storm-naming plan was announced in October. The common criticism is that it is a marketing ploy. The National Weather Service seems to agree; it has advised its forecasters not to follow the channel’s lead, and a spokesman said it had never named winter storms and had no plans to do so. (The New York Times advises reporters not to use the names in storm coverage.)

But the name game was catching on, as evidenced by the government officials, news media outlets and airlines that published advisories using the name. “We’re ready for Nemo,” the Twitter account for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, asserted on Thursday before listing all of the snow-removal tools at the city’s disposal.

Viewers and Web users seem to be playing along, too. Nemo was one of the top nationwide trends on Twitter on Friday.

“The fact is that Twitter needs a hashtag,” said Bryan Norcross, the Weather Channel meteorologist who helped conceive the storm-naming system. The main rationale for naming, he said, is to help raise awareness about the dangers of storms.

The name Nemo in Latin means “no one” or “no man.” Mr. Norcross said that derivation, not “Finding Nemo,” was part of the inspiration for the name, along with the Jules Verne character Captain Nemo from “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”

For the record, the channel’s next names are Orko, Plato and Q. On Friday morning, The Weather Channel declared that Orko had been born: it will affect North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota this weekend.

In Genesis, Jehovah gave to Adam the power to name things:

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

which is a useful thing, even today, when it has lost its mystical attributes, perhaps. 

But yes, today we need good short names for every event, happening, storm, battle, genocide, trend: so we can hashtag them.

Interesting that Nemo means no one, isn’t it?

My first use of the term ‘hash tag’ on Twitter, 25 August 2007

In that tweet I used ‘hash tag’ but in the post referenced I didn’t. Still, I am betting this is the first use of the term ‘hash tag’.

I’ve informed Ben Zimmer of the American Dialect Society whose research suggested that a post of mine (Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings) from 26 Aug 2007 was the first use.

Note that Chris Messina was the guy proposing the use of the hash (‘#’) to precede a term to tag things — in fact these tweets and posts were part of an intense dicussion that he and I and others were involved in that week in August. Chris was exploring a way to create something like Google+ Circles, which he was calling ‘channels’, using the ‘#word’ approach derived from IRC chat. His goal was to use channels as a way to direct where tweets are sent — a group DM, or mailing list, if you will — which didn’t happen.

My thinking at the time was around what I call ‘groupings’: free form communities of people who share the characteristic of using a shared tag, like all the folks who have tagged something ‘social business’ is a fast and loose definition of the ‘social business’ community. My thinking was that the tag should indicate topical metadata about the tweet, and implicit metadata — grouping membership — about the tweet’s author. Which is pretty much how they are used today.

At any rate, interesting support for Ben’s research on ‘#hashtag’. 

Thanks,@DonMacAskill, for the sleuthing.

French Word Police Rule Against ‘Hashtag’

I am feeling a bit proprietary about ‘hashtag’ these days, since Ben Zimmer of the American Dialect Society has researched the word and determined that I was the first to use it, back in 2007. As a result, I was shocked, shocked to learn that the French work police are attempting to make the French people use ‘mot-dièse’ instead.

France Shuns ‘Hashtag,’ Introduces New Twitter Term, ‘Mot-Dièse’

Following a decision from the Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologisme, which seeks to enrich the language by finding French alternatives for anglicisms, France has moved to bar the use of “hashtag” in favor of a new Twitter term, “mot-dièse,” the Connexion reports.

On Wednesday, France announced its decision to scrap the word on the government-run website Journal Officiel, the Local reports. Though French citizens will not be required to use mot-dièse, the government will utilize the replacement term on all official documents and encourage its use in social media.

News of the change to “mot-dièse” — “sharp-word” — spread quickly among French Twitter users as many criticized and mocked the new term, calling it “awful" and "much less stylish.”

However, as many Twitter users were quick the point out, using “mot-dièse” to signify a hashtag is technically incorrect since the word “dièse” denotes the sharp sign (♯), rather than the right-leaning hashtag symbol (#).

Do they use the word ‘tag’ in French? Or some French equivalent? Should the two terms be related in an obvious way?

The Worst Words of 2012 | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at →

Although the coinage ‘hashtag’ was dubbed word of the year by the American Dialect Society (who also chronicled my role in that neologism), the folks at decided hashtag was one of the worst words of 2012:

Hashtag — a Twitter symbol that has grown into an orthographic monster. What began as a “pound sign” or “number sign” and became a method for Twitter users to search tweets with common topics has morphed into the new URL. (Wondering what “URL” stands for? Watch the computer terms slideshow.) See our thorough discussion of the hashtag–and its real name–here.

I think this analysis is weak, and no surprise:’s The Hot Word column doesn’t publish the name of the authors, which is always a bad sign.

'Hashtag' Is Selected As Word Of The Year By The American Dialect Society

I was involved in a twitter thread today with Ben Zimmer, who is a well-known lexicographer, and chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society. He has been researching the Twitter hashtag, which was recently selected as Word Of The Year:

“Hashtag” is the 2012 Word of the Year American Dialect Society

In its 23rd annual words of the year vote, the American Dialect Society voted “hashtag” as the word of the year for 2012. Hashtag refers to the practice used on Twitter for marking topics or making commentary by means of a hash symbol (#) followed by a word or phrase.

Presiding at the Jan. 4 voting session were ADS Executive Secretary Allan Metcalf of MacMurray College, and Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society and executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Zimmer is also a language columnist for the Boston Globe.

“This was the year when the hashtag became a ubiquitous phenomenon in online talk,” Zimmer said. “In the Twittersphere and elsewhere, hashtags have created instant social trends, spreading bite-sized viral messages on topics ranging from politics to pop culture.”

Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item” — not just words but phrases. The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year. The vote is the longest-running such vote anywhere, the only one not tied to commercial interests, and the word-of-the-year event up to which all others lead. It is fully informed by the members’ expertise in the study of words, but it is far from a solemn occasion. Members in the 124-year-old organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, editors, students, and independent scholars. In conducting the vote, they act in fun and do not pretend to be officially inducting words into the English language. Instead they are highlighting that language change is normal, ongoing, and entertaining.

One interesting wrinkle is that Zimmer contends that I was the first to use the term ‘hashtag’ back in a post on 26 August 2007. My use was a response to Chris Messina’s proposal for so-called Twitter ‘channels’, which had the form of hashtags today (like ‘#hashtag’), but apparently I was the first to use the term hashtag to denote them. I also  coined the term ‘microsyntax’ to represent the developing use of symbols — like ‘@mentions’, ‘#hashtags’, ‘RT”, ‘$ticker’ — in Twitter and related apps. (I still haven’t been successful in getting '/geotags' implemented.)


I didn’t even have that post up on my blog. I moved my blog several times since 2007, from Typepad (where it was called /Message), to Squarespace, and then to Tumblr. And I hadn’t reposted all the older posts, since it has to be done manually. I reposted that piece today, copying the text from the Wayback Machine.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...