Last week, as part of online English month, Laine asked Macmillan Dictionary Blog contributors and readers to name their favourite online English word. The results were pleasingly diverse, with very little overlap. But one word received multiple mentions, so I decided to blog about it. It’s the word blog.
Kerry Maxwell, author of the BuzzWord column, wrote that blog has “dipped its toe into just about every word formation process”: clipping, blending, derivation, compounding, and conversion (see the post for more on these processes). Adam Kilgarriff found it fun and useful, and noted that it “sounds all Anglo-Saxon”. Janet Gough also sang its praises, seeing in it “the creativity of the English language” and hearing in it “something quite phonetically appealing”.
These contributions surprised and gladdened me, because blog is a word whose sight and sound I’ve always liked but have seen subjected to severe scorn and criticism for as long as it’s been around. A Google search of the precise phrase “I hate the word blog” returns 100,000 hits at the time of writing.
Why do so many people hate blog so much? Browsing some of the commentary online, I found all sorts of reasons and some recurring themes: “It sounds wet and tired”; “It makes my skin crawl”; “a very stupid word “; “too much like bog”; “rhymes with … nothing pleasant”; “It feels demeaning”; “one of the clumsiest words of recent invention”; “ugly word. Reminds me of snot”; “I won’t even dignify it by typing it”; “HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT.”
Blog resembles blob and bog in particular, and both of these signify wet, messy, unruly things. I like both words, but I can see how some people wouldn’t. Bog, as well as being slang for toilet (hence the pun in blogroll), has negative connotations such as in the pejorative Irish slang bogman or bog man, meaning “unsophisticated person from the countryside”.
One thing I don’t like about blog is when it’s used to mean blog post, as in “today’s blog”. I think it’s confusing and unnecessary, and that everyone using it should switch to the way I prefer! Copyediting conducted a survey on this last year, and most respondents felt as I did. Maybe in a few more years, our preference will prevail and the blog = blog post form will slide into disuse.
How do you feel about blog? Is it a useful word, and fun to say – or does it, as one critic quipped, sound like “a blob from a bog”?Email this Post