Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Word's Mistaken Identity

I was reading Flash Art's Italian edition for August-September 2009 and chanced upon a curious and mistaken explanation for the title of a project called "Travelogue" involving contemporary art in Capri.

Benedetta Bernasconi, the article's author, wrote, "Travelogue- titolo che unisce i due termini ingesi travel e blog - ..." (Travelogue - a title that combines the two English terms, travel and blog).

She obviously didn't do her homework and made too many assumptions when giving this explanation to readers. Travelogue is a word with a much longer history than blog. Does she even know the background of how we came to the contemporary term of blog? Probably not.

According to Wikipedia, blog comes from the term "weblog" which was originally used to indicate a kind of online diary which chronicles daily thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc. Along the way, someone played around with the word by dividing it into "we blog". From that, the contraction was born.

Blogging is not necessarily relevant to a travelogue. A blog could be a travelogue. But a travelogue could also be a lecture, video, personal diary or book about travels.

More appropriate is to perhaps reflect on the word "log" that has been around in the English language for centuries, coming from the Middle English word logge. Two appropriate definitions that could help explain Ms Bernasconi's division and understanding of a compound nature of the word "travelogue" are the following: 1) to enter in a record, as of a ship or an aircraft. 2) to travel (a specified distance, time, or speed): logged 30,000 air miles in April.

Yet in the end, travelogue, is plain and simple a singular and real word that exists with its own definition. No artists organization is to credit for putting together this word.

Let's all try to read our dictionaries and online sources a little better in the future, Ms Bernasconi.

1 comment:

  1. I've read your post and... you're right, it's a mistake, maybe also a bad mistake. And you wouldn't expect it in a specialized magazine. But I think you've been a little rude.

    I've read so many times in foreign publications Italian terms misspelled, or misunderstood. And they circulated so much that many people accept them as right ones.

    Getting familiar with a foreign language is a hard, neverending work. Ok, maybe Ms Bernasconi should have done her homework better. Or maybe she simply made a mistake in good faith. It's right to point out at the error, but it would be also useful to keep in mind that things for native english speakers are far easier.