Communication / Social media

Do you speak #Twitterish?

26 June 2013

Once upon a time it was the “pound or number” (#) symbol, perhaps one of the less used key on the old mobile phone keypads. The only glorious moments were devoted to topping up (for those unable to afford a subscription plan, of course!), when the operator voice asked to press the notorious key, often in good company of the inevitable star key.

It was September 1997 when I first received my first mobile phone as a present and tried to top up for the first time with an operator. I think I spent quite a lot in figuring out where it was, and above all, how the mysterious hatch mark looked like. Even a few years later, in Belgium during my Erasmus project and hanging over my mobile phone, I was flipping through my lexical knowledge of franco-belge to find out what the heck the preregistered voice meant by touche dièse. I swear I’m not a cell phone aholic, but both occasions show my nonchalance to that apparently insignificant symbol.

The hatch mark has now evolved, it has changed its name and turned into a celeb, strong of its over 285 million active users only on Twitter (source who daily use hashtags to spread information of all sort. Yes indeed, the hashtag as we are used to know in the era of social networks is a kind of conversations and messages container categorized by the users and letting you follow and share topics also on Instagram, Pinterest and, recently, even on Facebook.

We could state that speaking “Twitterish” is for translators, interpreters and language professionals projected into social media world as learning a new language, with its own terminology, rules and etiquette. That’s why, inspired by Elena Fernández’s post, on her blog Marketing para traductores, I decided to list some of the basic terms used on the microblogging platform to interact with the medium and the other users, experts of languages or not.

Short glossary of Twitter terms

If you have recently jumped in the flowing river that is Twitter, you could feel like being drawn into the stream of your Timeline. Let’s take this step-by-step, with an essential glossary in 10 terms:

Tweet: the message, of maximum 140 characters, you post and send out to your followers. The best tweets are those that are concise and direct to the point.

Follower: a user who has subscribed to your account updates. Higher the number of followers, wider is the public reading your posts and bigger your influence in the community.

Retweet (RT): is a sharing of the original post by another user in his or her own page. A retweet is used when a user thinks that your post is interesting or entertaining enough to share with his or her own followers.

Timeline: a real-time list of Tweets of the accounts (or following) you follow. Each user will have its own timeline, based on personal interests.

Mention: To communicate with another Twitter use, you can either send a direct message (privately) or mention the user in your public post so others can also see. To mention, simply insert an ‘@’ sign before the username.

DM: Short for “direct message”, the DM is a tweet-like message that is sent privately and can only be seen by the sender and the receiver. The limit for DMs is still under 140 characters.

Hashtag: is a keyword or phrase that is preceded by a pound (#) sign. Anybody who clicks the hashtag will be led to a page that lists all Twitter users who have applied the hashtag in their own posts.

Engagement: When you ‘engage’ with another user, you are making conversation with a string of responses and exchanges. The indicators for a high degree of engagement on Twitter are Favorite, RT and Reply.

URL shortener: Because tweets are limited to under 140 characters, it creates the micro version of the address (i.e. URLs that start with bit.l.y, tinyurl or that automatically transfers anybody who clicks it to the longer address of the page you want to share.

Trend: When a hashtag is particularly popular on Twitter, it becomes a trend or a trending topic. The Twitter homepage presents a list of the most popular hashtags at a certain time. Your homepage also shows a list of trends at the left side

Hashtag for cross-culture communicators

After you have learned the basics, it’s serious business now. Here you are some of the most popular and used hashtags in the world of translation, localization and languages, both in Italian and in English:



#dizionario / #dizionari



#g11n / #globalization




#i18n / #internationalization

#interpretariato / #interpretazione/  #interpreti

#1nt / #interpreting

#lingua / #lingue / #linguistica

#language / #languages


#l10n / #localization

#traduzione / #traduttori

#xl8 / #t9n / #translation



This way you won’t miss any tweet and you will simplify the searching task to other users, whether or not they are your followers.

I’ll be waiting curious for your comments and, why not, to some special or funny hashtags  like those mentioned by Elena in her post.

photo: Butler University



Maria Elena Leta