Google says tomato …

May 6, 2010

Attention Internets! It is now official — Google has spoken: You are looking at a website.

No, really — it’s not a Web site any more. In the latest 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google systematically used “website” to refer to what the company called “web sites” as recently as its Feb. 12 10-K filing. (It’s true that the 10-Q appears to slip up in the very first reference, using the hybrid “Website,” but we’re pretty sure that’s actually from the SEC’s standard form.)

For some of us here at the footnoted global campus, this development is more than a little unsettling. Despite living in the brave new world of the blogosphere, we can be sticklers for tradition. And nowhere does tradition lodge more firmly in an inky wretch’s heart than in the matter of style. Even as newsrooms shrink, debates rage over the that/which rule, the Oxford comma (or should that be Harvard?), begging the question (get the T-shirt!), and (for a few brave souls) even the Sisyphean struggle to expunge from the English language the clumsy over-use of “such as.”

So it was bad enough that the Associated Press came to the same conclusion last month, but we’ve long come to terms with the fact that the old blue book isn’t entirely infallible. (Why else would you need the Fake AP Stylebook?) Once we saw that Google had made the switch, however, we knew the gig was up. Here’s the gruesome evidence, comparing a passage from Google’s latest 10-Q to the one it filed in November, using Morningstar Document Research’s Compare Wizard function:

Incidentally, we should prepare for more of this kind of thing, the American Heritage Dictionay warns us (via the endlessly diverting Wordnik.com):

  • usage note
    The transition from World Wide Web site to Web site to website as a single uncapitalized word mirrors the development of other technological expressions which have tended to take unhyphenated forms as they become more familiar. Thus email is gaining ground over the forms E-mail and e-mail, especially in texts that are more technologically oriented. Similarly, there is an increasing preference for closed forms like homepage, online, and printout.
  • There’s no fighting progress. But for those of us who still capitalize and punctuate regularly, don’t be surprised if we still occasionally slip an elegant “Web site” into our e-mails now and again.

    Posted in: Disclosures, Financial

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