June 29, 2004


In his recent post, Adam Albright uses parentheses, scare quotes, and a question mark to indicate a certain amount of insecurity with the use of the word "speako" to refer to the oral equivalent of a "typo". So much CYA-age seems unnecessary, though; Adam also provides a convenient link to wordspy.com's entertaining definition of "speako", giving it at least some external validation.

Still, I'm with Adam (assuming I understand his hesitations correctly): "speako" just doesn't sound exactly right, although I also agree with wordspy.com that "wordo" is worse (by far).

At a recent linguistics event in LA, Bruce Hayes used the word "talko" to refer to an oral typo. It made sense in context, but John McCarthy thought that Bruce was offering culinary advice ("talko" being homophonous with "taco" in Bruce's apparently Californiated accent). But even respecting the East Coast vowel distinction, "talko" doesn't quite do the trick, either.

I think the relative unacceptability of all of these forms has something to do with trying to promote -o to the status of a productive nominalizing suffix. But I haven't thought about it much beyond this. As a side-stepping alternative, my wife Karen suggests "mistalk", with final stress like "mistake" ... nah.

[ Comments? ]

Posted by Eric Bakovic at June 29, 2004 11:09 PM