A New Lexical Pet Peeve

I’m about to add a new entry to my list of lexical pet peeves. For lately I have noticed an increased misuse of the verb “to curate”.

Until a few months ago, “curate” wasn’t a verb that showed up all too often in online interactions, unless you were talking about museums. But of late, I have increasingly seen “curate” or “curation” used for blogs or newish social networks like tumblr or pinterest which mainly collect links and other materials from elsewhere, much like I do in my linkdumps. Here is one example, a blog I’ve seen linked all over the place late, which uses the c-word (no, not that c-word) right in the tagline. The blog actually appears to be interesting, but I tend to click away once I see the pretentious “curated by” in the tagline.

Look, you only curate something, if you work in a museum as a curator. And someone who runs the official website or blog of a museum could potentially call him- or herself a curator of internet content, though I strongly suspect that most of them wouldn’t.

But if you post interesting links, pictures or videos to your blog, tumblr, pinterest or other platform of your choice, you don’t “curate” anything. There’s already a perfectly accurate term for what you’re doing, namely “blogging” or “posting”. Or – if you mainly post links to content created by others (for some reason, the whole “curation” issue seems to run particularly rampant on sites that mostly repost content) – you can call it “reposting” or “reblogging” or “collecting” or “assembling”.

But “curating” just makes you sound like a pompous git.

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8 Responses to A New Lexical Pet Peeve

  1. Estara says:

    My personal big pet peeve of recent increased usage is “to opine” instead of “to give and opinion, to have an opinion, to think”, etc.

    • Cora says:

      Yes, “opine” is really annoying as well. I also hate “crunchy” when used to refer to anything other than food or perhaps snow. Nutty chocolate is crunchy. Hard SF and eco/hippie types are not.

  2. A curator is someone who has the care/superintendence of something — particularly an exhibit (whether museum or zoo). If someone posts links, that’s not curating. But if someone, for example, reposts something with added relevant images and links, that can be considered curating.

    “Opine” is identical to “express an opinion” and has been this way for a few centuries, although it is usually used ironically or pejoratively. Words like valorize and liaise are far worse in the pomposity department. And, of course, linguistic meanings do evolve.

    • Estara says:

      Very true – like all those Germans that say realisieren these days with the meaning of the English “to suddenly grasp (the meaning of ) something that happened” – where it actually means (in German) to make something become reality exclusively.

      They do it, and if enough people do it the meaning will get included into the dictionaries – but I don’t have to like it ^^.
      I’m a curmudgeon – I prefer irregular verbs to have the irregular past participle or past tense and not -ed, which so many authors now use (shined, etc.)

      For me if someone shined something, he polished it to a gleam. I’ll learn to live with it, I’m sure. When I was at school we had to learn to use and read whom in the correct way – now I’m a teacher I only have to mention to students that whom exists and they don’t have to learn to produce it correctly.

      • Cora says:

        “Realisieren” is a funny case, because the wrong meaning was translated back (and badly) from English. Interestingly, I often have to tell translation customers that “We are going to realize the project” is wrong English. It’s a double false friend.

        I have noticed the regularisation of irregular verbs as well and it’s irritating. “whom” still exists in the Gymnasium textbooks, but has vanished from the Realschule and Hauptschule textbooks, probably because many native speakers have stopped using it correctly.

        Another German pet peeve of mine is “Rosenkrieg” when applied to a bitter divorce. The usage obviously goes back to the otherwise forgettable Kathleen Turner/Michael Douglas film of approx. 20 years ago, except that Germans never got why the film was called “War of the Roses”, namely because the couple in question was called Rose and as a play on the historical War of the Roses. However, most Germans have never heard of the historical War of the Roses, so they started using “Rosenkrieg” to refer to divorce battles in general. It still bugs me, though.

    • Cora says:

      “curate” is something that has been popping up increasingly in the past few months and mostly used in contexts where content is reposted from elsewhere. I agree that there are sites where “curate” would be appropriate, but those sites mostly don’t use it.

      And I agree that “valorize” or “liaise” sound incredibly pompous.

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