‘Betwixt’ is Semi-Trending: The New Insight into Old English

Look at that fucking upswing.

Look at that fucking upswing.

Speculative word nerds, keep your dotted eyes fixed on “betwixt,” the Old English utterance enjoying a semi-comeback, thanks to insights gleaned from from Google’s word search.

Giving the likes of Dictionary.com a run for their money (let alone Wiktionary, sans the money), Google has for many years displayed a definition at the top of its search page for any word whose meaning it suspects one might enjoy clarification — stygian, for instance.

Realizing, however, that everything is better with infographics, Google now adorns definitions with a tempting-looking down arrow, begging for the click. To this I say: user, be thyself tempted, and click thyself to a cavalcade of etymological joy.

First drops down the word’s origin, illustrated in March-Madness-style tournament brackets, tracing the roots of the word through branches of time and space. Betwixt itself proves an excellent example, arriving betwixt a confluence of wordlets:

This is what betting pools at the OED look like.

This is what office betting pools look like at the OED.

Offering, after this, an option to translate the word into any which language — including Welsh (rhyngof), Finnish (yhdessä jkn kanssa), and Bulgarian (изправих между) — Google then offers the Googliest insight of them all: trending usage through time.

As one can see in the abovemost picture, betwixt has seen better days, but like that of the proverbial British empire, the sunlight twinkles at the edge of the horizon.

Enjoying a newfound popularity — a moderate popularity, to be sure; a restrained popularity, a Canadian-esque sort of ascendancy — betwixt breezes upwards from the trough years of the aughts, caught as it seemingly was in recessionary mires. (Betwixt bubbles up in the jollier of times, when credit default swaps comport themselves more suitably.)

Could this be a mere aberration, or might boring, overused “between” finally be falling to its zestier, twixtier cousin?

A Page Along the Goal Funnel

Indeed, Google. Indeed.

Indeed, Google Analytics. Indeed.

Thanks to a hat tip from #sfbeta Managing Producer Dellaena Maliszewski, I recently stumbled upon the Experiments section of Google Analytics, a nifty and powerful tool that helps webmasters test multiple versions of a single page, in order to track and optimize performance. Think Optimizely, but, like, run by Google.

Smack dab in the midst of the page appears the phrase, “A page along the goal funnel,” contextualized in wonderfully recursive terms:

Your experiment can focus on any single page that helps visitors accomplish a specific goal.

Via the goal funnel, obviously.

Dropped into a succinct bullet point so nonchalantly, reverberating with a distinctive, subtly poetic, yet cosmically meaningless timbre, “a page along the goal funnel” enters the sociotechnical milieu with subtle grace and a twinkle of arrogance, becoming the liveliest phrase to dance about the internet since Williams-Sonoma popularized the light mist of tangy juice.

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