This week's New Yorker contains an essay, currently available in the print edition only, by Roger Angell, about what his life is like at the age of 93. It is full of well-wrought observations about loss and mortality and sex and the abundance of existence but it also keeps an eye on the contemporary, as in this passage:
Dailiness—but how can I explain this one? Perhaps with a blog recently posted on Facebook by a woman I know who lives in Australia. "Good Lord, we've run out of nutmeg!" it began. "How in the world did that ever happen?" Dozens of days are like that with me lately.
The word "blog," as any stickler knows, is short for "web log," and originally referred to the online publishing format of that name: a series of posts, usually published in reverse chronological order. Calling an individual post a "blog" is, from this point of view, a solecism along the lines of saying Maureen Dowd "writes a newspaper" for the New York Times.
Using "blog" for "blog post," in this light, is a marker that the writer is an Old, a digital non-native, unable to properly use the jargon created by a younger and more astute audience. Which: LOL, because role reversal. The internet (small I!) is a prescriptivist's nightmare. Words get coined and spread outward with scarcely any professional screening or oversight, leaving the earliest adopters as a crotchety rear guard, chasing after the propagating language, screaming "It's pronounced 'JIF'!"
(It's pronounced how people pronounce it, which is mostly "gif.")
Moreover, we have encountered this usage, "a blog," even from people in their 20s, writing for blogs. We editors used to care about this, but why? Whose anachronistic befuddlement is really being implicated here? Web logs, qua web logs, are one kind of platform, with no particular claim on controlling the present or the future. But quickly composed, digital-only units of writing are here to stay. Roger Angell happened to read one via Facebook.
And so here is Angell—the stepson of the legendary usage rule-giver E.B. White and a self-identified blogger—using "a blog" to refer to a piece of writing, and doing so with the approval of the New Yorker's copy desk. His meaning is clear. This blog agrees.
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