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Friday, August 05, 2005

Blogsphere or Blogosphere?

Today's NY Times has this editorial, entitled "Measuring the Blogosphere," which discusses the growth of the medium.  Though others may want to discuss the substance, I want to discuss the nomenclature: why the second "o" in the term for the universe of blogs? 

I have always been partial to the term blogsphere rather than blogosphere, in part because it is one syllable more efficient and in part because I have never quite understood the source of the second "o."  But a quick google search suggests that blogsphere is the minority spelling (see this wikipedia entry).

Can someone make a case for blogosphere over blogsphere?   (Perhaps this inquiry should be added to the list of key questions for Judge Roberts during his confirmation hearings.)

Posted by Douglas A. Berman on August 5, 2005 at 03:47 AM in Blogging | Permalink

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I think it's because of the like sound to scientific phrases like "stratosphere," "biosphere," etc. I've mostly seen it with the 'o', and never noticed your anomalous spelling, actually, until you mentioned it. :-)

Posted by: Scott | Aug 5, 2005 5:24:57 AM

yep, I have to agree with the previous commenter. The first thing that came to mind was "stratosphere". It just has a nice "rounded" sound to it.

Posted by: Gideon | Aug 5, 2005 9:23:17 AM

Here here. Seems like people want a two syllable prefix for -sphere words -- I can't think of a counter-example.

Posted by: marc | Aug 5, 2005 9:52:33 AM

I have to admit, I thought you were making an unintended typo when you wrote "blogsphere" on the Sentencing blog. I agree that "blogosphere" sounds better because it has the same number of syllables as "atmosphere" and "stratosphere," and because it sounds more natural in such phrases as "There's just something in the blogosphere today" or "You can't eat the blogosphere," as my grandfather might have said.

Posted by: Matthew | Aug 5, 2005 10:11:35 AM

Blogosphere seems to be the accepted term at Language Log, and they ought to know.

Posted by: Jim | Aug 5, 2005 10:11:59 AM

I don't like a word with "gsph" all in a row.

Posted by: Chris | Aug 5, 2005 11:09:49 AM

People commonly carry over more than the actual suffix when transferring that suffix to a new word. E.g., the suffix in "alcoholic" is the "ic." But no one says "chocolatic." Instead, the "hol" gets carried over: "chocoholic."

Posted by: Stuart Buck | Aug 5, 2005 11:55:04 AM

I don't like having "wkw" all in a row either, but it seems to work in "awkward."

Posted by: Stuart Buck | Aug 5, 2005 11:55:59 AM

This lengthy list form OneLook Dictionary (which searches almost 1000 dictionaries) of words that include the suffix "sphere" has only 6 words that lack a vowel before "sphere". Two of the words are verbs (ensphere and unsphere). Both of them, along with the nouns undersphere and circumsphere, have letters before "sphere" that are easier to pronounce than "b" in combination with "sph". The last two "blogsphere" and "Websphere" are the names of actual products. Wikipedia says that BlogSphere is the name of a blogging tool for Lotus Domino. That in and of itself seems like a pretty good reason to avoid its use to describe the total weblog community and ecosphere.

As I have argued in the word "blog" (our language legacy), we should, to the extent necessary, attempt to create neologisms that are aesthetically pleasing. The consensus in the English language appears to be that words ending in the suffix "sphere" are easier and more pleasing to pronounce (and hear) when there is a vowel before the suffix.

So, I would vote against "blogsphere," which I have never seen used before this posting. Although I mostly use "blogosphere," I've often used "blogisphere," because I prefer the softer/quick short-i sound to the "o," and "blogiverse" because I like the reference to "universe".

Posted by: David Giacalone | Aug 5, 2005 11:57:00 AM

Keep in mind that it's "speedometer", not "speedmeter".

There are several Greek morphemes that seem to have been generalized for combination in a form with a non-original initial "o".

Also see
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001895.html

Posted by: Mark Liberman | Aug 5, 2005 5:03:02 PM

Thank you, and thank you again, for this post. I have been thinking just this thought for a few months now. I'm glad someone agreees with me! I'm saying and writing "Blogsphere" from now on. "Blog-o-sphere" is awkward sounding. It's been erased from my vocabulary.

Posted by: Horatio Skimmington | Aug 5, 2005 7:53:57 PM

I personally like the shortness of just "Blogsphere", and in second place the mentioned softness of "Blogisphere". But I have to defer to "Blog" writer Hugh Hewitt, who uses "Blogosphere".

Of course, being a Louisville, KY native, I'm used to MANY different pronunciations of my own hometown. I just get used to it.

Posted by: ColonelSteve | Aug 6, 2005 12:02:32 PM

It seems that Bill Quick of Daily Pundit has a good claim to coining the word "blogosphere". See here and here.

So praise/blame him.

Posted by: G. Hamid | Aug 6, 2005 12:35:21 PM

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