I'll take questions from the audience now.
Q. Did you make that word up?
A. No, I did not. From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913 edition:
Noun: A chirping or creaking, as of a cricket. (Obsolete.) Origin: Latin fritinnire, to twitter.
Q. How do you pronounce it?
A. Phonetically, more or less: FRIT-ih-nan-see.
Q. Why did you change the blog's name?
A. I'd originally chosen Away With Words to play off my business name, Wordworking. I'd wanted the blog to be an opportunity to run away with words--to take them a little less seriously than I do in the world of commerce. But it turned out there was already another blog called Away With Words, as well as an English-Japanese-Cantonese-language movie (a k a San Tiao Ren) and a book (by Australian writer Ruth Wajnrjb) by the same name. And then there's A Way with Words, the public radio show about language hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette. (It isn't carried on any of my local public radio stations, and I confess that when I started blogging in June 2006 I hadn't yet heard of it. Mea maxima culpa.) If I'd analyzed my own competitive namescape as critically as I do for my clients, I'd have told myself to go back to the drawing board.
Q. Why Fritinancy?
A. I explored other creative directions involving "words," "names," "language," and other obvious concepts. None seemed distinctive, memorable, or appealing enough.
I considered some aliases I've used around the internets: Bon Mot, Wordworker, etc. Meh.
Then I began looking at my own name. My naming colleague Mark Gunnion had enjoyed my post about the term Friedman Unit and suggested I appropriate that term as a blog title. I was tempted--FriedmanUnit.com, .net, and .org are still available as of this writing--but FU is permanently attached to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman (no relation), and I'm not eager to have my opinions confused with his.
So I turned my attention to my first name and began pushing it around. Several words, I realized, end with -nancy, and some seemed appropriate as titles for a blog about language. Consonancy (taken, alas). Dissonancy (taken). Resonancy (taken). Assonancy. (Okay, not Assonancy.) Finally, a wild-card search turned up Fritinancy. I'd never encountered the word, which tickled me: there was my own all-too-familiar name peeping out from under those Edwardian-era skirts. And I was pleased to discover no one else had claimed it--not as a business name, not as a blog name, not as anything I could find except old dictionary definitions.
And I liked those definitions. "Chirping" and "creaking"--not to mention "frittering"--seem like perfectly apt descriptions of what I do here. (And yes, I have a Twitter account, although I haven't tweeted yet.)
More positive associations: I like the way "Friti-" suggests my surname. (In high school and college, where I was one among many Nancys, I was known as Friedy.) "Fritinancy" is obscure, but not impossibly so. It's a fun word to say. In rescuing it from obsolescence, I felt I was doing a linguistic good deed. In that, I am greatly encouraged by the examples of Wishydig, A Roguish Chrestomathy, and several of the other linguistics blogs I read regularly.
I can imagine Fritinancy on a menu: pommes fritinancy, perhaps.
Finally, just look at the Scrabble words you can pull out of Fritinancy: infantry, tyrannic, nifty, crafty, frantic, inanity, infancy, ratify ... well, you get the idea.
Q. Enough about you. If I've bookmarked or subscribed to or linked to your blog, do I have to change anything?
A. If you've been kind enough to include me in your blogroll, I'd appreciate it very much if you changed the name of the link to Fritinancy. Otherwise, no need to take action--not for now, anyway. The blog's URL will remain nancyfriedman.typepad.com until I get energized to change it. (I've registered fritinancy.com, .net, and .org, just in case I suddenly, or even gradually, start getting 25,000 readers a day and decide to make a technology investment.) If your bookmark or link includes Away_With_Words in the URL, you might want to delete that appendage, but you probably don't have to.
Q. Do bloggers do this often? Change their blog names, I mean.
A. Often enough. The most prominent example is probably Guy Kawasaki, wildly famous venture capitalist and author, whose blog has had three names during its lifetime: "Bona Tempora Volvantur" (Let the Good Times Roll), "Signum Sine Tinnitu" (Signal Without Noise), and--currently--"How to Change the World."
I like to think I'm in good company and that I've made my own small step toward betterment. You, however, may disagree, in which case I invite you to leave me a politely worded comment.
Or you can start writing your own blog and call it any damn thing you like.
Photo ("Cricket passant la tête") by Guillaume T. at Flickr.