Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The grammar of blogging - advice wanted

I’ve just come across this sentence:

Within two days, it had been blogged in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

And I’m wondering whether it should be:

Within two days, it had been blogged about in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

If you think about the etymology of blog (web log), it makes sense to go for the first. But ‘logging’ something simply means making a record of it – very different from, say, ‘writing in a log’ about something. And I think that ‘writing in a blog’ comes much closer to the way we use ‘blogging’ – which makes me think there should be an ‘about’.

The only counterexample I can think of off the top of my head is ‘to liveblog’, which we pretty much only use transitively with no ‘about’ – as in ‘I’m liveblogging the debate tonight’. But then, that seems more like good old-fashioned logging to me, when you’re noting events as they happen. Blogging, more generally, can be far more discursive and utterly unrelated to current (or even past) events.

What does anyone think?


Chris said...

I'd say the use of about is an expression of abstractness, and this is no different for blog than it is for other verbs like write, sing, talk etc.

If I'm talking to someone and they say 'I'm going to blog about this' I take it to mean they will be commenting on the general situation. But if they say 'I'm going to blog this' I take it to mean they will copy down, more or less, exactly what is said and done. (Different example: 'I'm going to sing about October'; 'I'm going to sing October', where the latter means a specific song.)

Given that, I think the first sentence is fine if the writer is indicating that lots of people rushed to put a 'Look at this + quote + link' entry on their blogs - if the writer wishes to give us a picture of many people discussing, commenting, adding something then 'about' should be in there. And both can be used in the right contexts usefully because those are two different types of blogging.

Chris said...

On further thought, that's probably why you don't use the about when liveblogging - because you're being much less abstract.

Also, 'I liveblogged it' and 'I liveblogged about it' are both transitive, and 'it had been blogged' and 'it had been blogged about' are both intransitive by virtue of being passive.

Mil said...

I'm not sure why but I think I'd prefer to say "I'd like to blog on the subject of something". Maybe because blogging often seems to be the visual equivalent of speaking.

Tom Freeman said...

Cheers, I agree with you both!