Archive: December 7th, 2005

TIME Magazine -- The Road Ahead

A fun debate featuring Tim O'Reilly, Esther Dyson, Malcom Gladwell, Clay Shirky and Moby.

Word Of The Day

After I wrote my slightly offensive little rant, I was assailed by niggling twinges of doubt. Could it be, I wondered, that I came across as being… a nit-picker? (gasp!)

Say it isn’t so!, I admonished myself. Why, there’s nothing I dislike more than a nit-picker, a splitter of hairs, a pedant of the insignificant.

Sadly, nit-picking seems to be a thriving activity on the Web. In what appears to be a subset of a well-established theory, it seems that:

Internet + Opinion = Comic book guy from the Simpsons

Witness Paul’s movie reviews, most of the comments on Stylegala, and every second utterance from Anne Van Kesteren.

Notice that I don’t have comments here, thereby denying these aggrieved people the right to reply. It’s the internet equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and going, Na Na Na, I Can’t Hear You.

Although it’s a universal trait, Germanic cultures seem to be particularly well-endowed in the nit-picking department. There’s a lovely German word, "Rabulist", that, by virtue of being practically unused amongst speakers of the language, is a self-fulfilling definition of a sophist.

The Dutch also have a wonderful word and I would like to propose that we bring the English translation of this word into common usage. I first learnt of this word from Veerle and Geert when I met up with them in Brussels. We were discussing just how nit-picky some comments on Veerle’s blog could be, particularly those criticising her English (not her native language).

The Dutch word for someone as petty as this is "miereneuker". This is a compound word. The first part refers to an industrious insect. The second part denotes the act of copulation. The nearest English translation would be:


What a wonderfully evocative and satisfying term! I hereby pledge to improve my word power - I will endeavour to use this new word as often as opportunity allows. I’ll begin by sending a one-word response to anyone who gets in touch to point out inaccuracies or errors in this very post.

Join me for the next instalment of Word Of The Day (Netherlands edition), when I reveal why Dutch people always giggle when they hear us singing the praises of Flickr.