Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Titular Colonicity

Titular colonicity is not a medical test that involves bending over for a doctor wearing rubber gloves. No, this has to do with our tendency to put colons in titles, especially academic work. A study from a while back examined this from 1880 to 1980. Brilliant! And heck, who knew it had a name?

I've always wanted to do a study of colons in our academic journal article titles, and now I have a keyword and some theoretical background. The use of the colon is considered the mark of scholarly quality. Who needs good research as long as you have the following:

Clever Phrase (colon) Description of the Research

The authors found that 72 percent of articles in 30 journals included a colon. And it's historical. They have a neat graphic that shows how around 1950 or so there is a leap in use of the colon. Cool!

I'd love to look at the mass comm literature over time and compare it to a similar field, like political science or speech comm or sociology. And are there kinds of research in mass comm that are more likely to use colons versus others? The only way to find out is to do it. Of course then I'd have to figure out where to send such research.

And I'd also need a title. With a colon.


Anonymous said...

You know you are a geek when: You find an actual application for the phrase "titular colonicity."

Hollander said...

Of the applications for this phrase, this one seemed the tamest. Any other would likely get me written up in the Red & Black.

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