Friday, October 12, 2007

Mic or Mike?

I love the English language. It's so delightfully ambiguous.

Question of the day: What is the correct abbreviation of "microphone"?

I have become accustomed to using "mic." I don't know why. I don't know when I picked it up. I imagine it's because of my music background. Apparently, this is the version most used by musicians and technicians in the industry.

But if you look at other words as precedent, why then you have "bicycle" reduced to "bike" and "tricycle" reduced to "trike." So many people use "mike."

More complications result when use of the word changes from noun to verb. When you are setting up a microphone for the drums, for instance, are you "micing the drums" or "miking the drums"?

Personally, I don't mind a little mix and match: mic, miking, miked.

But this was enough to send one linguist into a rant on the subject. He also happens to link to a poetry site where the question was posed to poets at large. Their responses are varied and entertaining.

So which do you use: mic or mike?


Jesse said...

Normally, I'm a mic kinda guy. But, after reading the ramblings of poets and phd's, I must say the eloquence of the 'mike' proponents have swayed me. As for micing or miking, I totally recognise that there must be some bendiness allowed. After all, the English language doesn't have to make sense. It doesn't even have to be terribly consistent. Pretty soon we'll be including lolcatspeak into our dictionaries, and the only people to complain about it will be the academics. I can't blame them really. It would be nice to have a consistent language, where the spelling would be predictable. (How long did it take you to remember how to spell 'salve' and 'spaghetti'?)
One of the things I love about the English language is it's willingness to accept new ideas and to give them form. Nowadays, this usually takes the form of 'hyphy' and 'Razr', which is unfortunate. The media monster craves these new words, and I hope it chokes on them, but I can't see my way clear to disallowing their existence. I just hold on to the hope that they'll be dropped from our public consciousness when it's discovered that the words are as useless as the products or concepts they represent. It would be nice to have a concept worthy of inventing a new word for.

Remember 'def'?

Badger said...

It is definitely "mic" for me. "Mike" just doesn't look right; it reminds me of the name, whether it is capitalized or not. I imagine that the use of "mike" is mostly because of sound rules; "mic" looks more like it should be pronounced "mick."

As for micing/miced and miking/miked, I've got a new one. What I use, at least in casual writing, is "mic'd." Totally and completely wrong orthographically, I know, but it conveys the right meaning; you don't have to think about which pronounciation or meaning it has. "Micing" and "miced" are just plain wrong because of the soft "c" sound.

And btw, I have absolutely no PhD to back this up, just my guitar and my mic.