Following up on the deeper meaning of tittles....
Putting a lowercase "i" in front of a word has become shorthand for suggesting that a thing is somehow cool, tekkie, and Internet related. Apple didn't invent this idea, but they own it now -- a very clever marketing move.
But it messes with the language, as this reporter points out:
This is how language changes, and the Web, with its pressures for writing that is tight, short, and skimmable, is a force for change. In print, the limits are clear: Some things won't fit on the page. The situation online is subtler. It is theoretically possible to run articles that go on and on. But on an entry page (the "front page" of an online publication), space is as tight as on its ink-on-paper counterpart.
But it's worth noting that the Web headline for the story was, its first letter aside, actually more of a traditional hard-news headline than what ran in print. The print headline was more a "flavor headline." It suggested what happened but had no subject – no "doer" – or predicate verb.
By contrast "iPhone Users Plagued by Software Problems" would have made sense, grammatically at least, to a traditional green-eyeshade copy desk of a century ago. They might have had a little trouble understanding "software problems," though. They might have thought that "software problems" were what happened on a weekend when you had houseguests and you ran out of bath towels.
I like to make fun of myself and my obsessions in this blog, but this serious discussion about how changes in convention can lead to changes in language sort of strikes at the heart of what made me notice "tittle" in the first place...
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
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