Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Detestable neologisms: “curate” as a verb

About a month ago, in the course of a discussion on the alt.usage.english newsgroup I became aware of “curate” being used as a verb, and since then I’ve been seeing it in lots of places.

To me a “curator” was someone in charge of a museum or art gallery, and seeing it in other contexts just looked very weird.

I read this page on a blog that referred to “curating” a dictionary: Crowd-sourced dictionaries and rare portmanteaus | Sentence first: “For more of my thoughts on Urban Dictionary, and why professionally curated dictionaries are in no danger of displacement, you can read the rest here.”

I queried it, and the author said it had been expanded in meaning, as he explained here: Is linguistic inflation insanely awesome? | Macmillan:

Lately the word curation has been used to refer to the collecting and posting of links on the internet, a curator being someone who does this. Some find it a bit of a stretch, and they have a point. But this often happens to job titles: they get stretched, puffed up, inflated – Subway workers are sandwich artists, cleaning staff are surface technicians, and hairdressers are design directors.

I had hitherto thought that the correct neologism for such a person who collects and posts links on the Internet was “blogger”.But, hey, if it will impress people, I hope you enjoy reading my curation and the links that I have curated above. It is obviously a new trend in the curatosphere.

The dictionary reference made me think of Samuel Johnson, as he must have been the first-ever curator of an English dictionary, and he says:

CURATOR one that has the care and superintendence of any thing.

The curators of Bedlam assure us, that some lunaticks are persons of honour.

That fits in pretty well with the current meaning of “manager”.

But I still feel that referring to Samuel Johnson as the “curator” of the first English dictionary doesn’t fit, and that “compiler” would be a more accurate description.

There are some neologisms, like “curate”, and extensions of the meanings existing words, like “curator”, that I feel compelled to resist. Not that it will stop other people using them, but I will continue to blog, rather than curate, and invite people to read my blog rather than read my curation.

On second thoughts, I think I may use “curator” to take the mickey, and refer to the CEOs of companies as “curating directors”. Perhaps they’ll be flattered.

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