One of Twitter's error messages reads:

Something is technically wrong.

Of course I understand what they mean, but am I wrong to interpret this as "strictly speaking, there is something wrong" instead of the intended "there is a technical issue"?

What would be the ideal, succinct way to phrase this, maintaining simplicity and clarity?

closed as not constructive by MetaEd, aedia λ, JSBձոգչ, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, Brendon Jan 23 '12 at 18:32

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  • I don't care for this message either. I have no idea why they included "technically" (it's implied) and I especially don't get why they included it in this manner. – Ben Brocka Jan 23 '12 at 3:48
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    This question has no right answer. The sentence as is can be read more than one way, which means the request for the ideal sentence cannot be definitively answered -- not to mention that there will commonly be many ways to express something, not one ideal way. Voting to close not constructive. – MetaEd Jan 23 '12 at 16:10
  • The question only has no right answer only if you agree with Mark Beadles' answer. If the ambiguity is unintended then there absolutely is a correct answer, since they are failing to express themselves effectively. – Dave Jan 23 '12 at 16:38
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    Which is another point in favor of closure as not constructive. We should be answering questions about English language and usage, not speculating about whether the hilarity coming out of Twitter's marketing department is accidental. – MetaEd Jan 23 '12 at 16:48
  • @MetaEd Point well taken. – Dave Jan 23 '12 at 16:56

It's a joke, a play on words. It plays upon the double meaning of 'technically': something is wrong with the technology; and something is strictly wrong. Twitter is a bit of a light-hearted company, as you may have gleaned from the Fail Whale that accompanies said message.

In other words: they intend the reader to interpret it both ways.

  • Plausible; can you provide evidence? Or is this your opinion? – MetaEd Jan 23 '12 at 16:06
  • Evidence that it's a play on words? Ipse dixit. Here is the current page design screen shot, which shows a cartoon robot with a missing claw. The collocation of a whimsical image strongly implies the content should be taken with a whimsical view. Now that I have explained it is no longer funny, of course. – Mark Beadles Jan 23 '12 at 16:25

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