Sunday, October 02, 2011

Latin for tweet?

I'm not on twitter myself, and haven't really contemplated what the Latin for to tweet might be. The editorial in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald suggested frigere, in this short post script:
THE 18th-century philosopher Bishop Berkeley thought things existed only if they were perceived. In all modesty we wish to propose a variant of this doctrine: people exist only if they tweet, or esse est frigere, for those who prefer their axioms in questionable Latin. The basis for this is our report that social scientists have plotted the mood of the whole world from Twitter.

After examining half a billion tweets and tallying up when people tweet positive and negative words, they conclude that most of us wake up happy, then things go downhill through the work day until knock-off time, when tweeters resume their early bounciness. This astonishing finding is all well and good, but what about people who don't tweet? Might their mood swings be in the opposite direction? Here our axiom springs into action. Either they are the same as the twitterers, in which case they are superfluous, or they are different but undetectable, in which case who cares? ... All together now: frigo ergo sum. I tweet, therefore I am.
I was a bit puzzled by this verb, and admit I had to look it up to see what it meant. Here's the definition according to William Whitaker's Words (I'm on holidays and don't have a real dictionary with me):

frigo, frigere, frixi, frictus: to roast, parch, fry

I'm not sure how they chose this verb, given that definition. Perhaps there's another meaning not given on-line, or perhaps there's some joke I'm not getting. In either case I would have thought pipiare or titiare (which both describe the sounds birds make) would have been a better choice. Any other suggestions?

UPDATE: unsurprisingly, someone else has already given this some thought. Here are the Rogue Classicist's (who is actually on twitter and has much more authority than I on such matters) suggestions. While I was raeding this I was also distracted by this post, which reminded me of why I love Boris Johnson so much.


lilian.thigh said...

Latin: garrio, garrire, garrivi, garritus

English: chatter/prattle/jabber; talk rapidly; talk/write nonsense; (birds/instruments)


Anonymous said...

RogueClassicist blogged about this a few months ago, and reached much the same conclusion as you regarding pipiare and titiare. He even designed an appropriate logo. :-)

jeltzz said...

Have you not seen Rogueclassicism on the topic?

Anonymous said...

I had not seen the rogue classicist (there's a lot on there which slips past me), but i'm not surprised he's given it more thought than i. that explains where frigo comes from too.

Anonymous said...

by the way did anyone notice the journal article cited by the Rogue Classicist on animal sounds was by Chauncey E. Finch?