Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #143 

March 2, 2010 

by Peter Suber

Word contest

English speakers need a verb that means "to provide OA to".  It should be as succinct as "sell" for use in sentences such as, "We sell the print edition but ____ the digital edition."

I use "to provide OA to" for lack of anything obviously better.  But I don't like it.  It's long, dry, and awkward.  Making a digital work OA is a fairly elemental act, and the verb for that act shouldn't take four words.  I'm hoping that someone out there can do better. 

We could say "open up" or "make OA".  These are shorter than four words, but they're still phrases and I'm hoping that creative people can find or invent a single word.  We could say simply "open", but that would be ambiguous, since we already say "open the journal" and "open the book" with another meaning in mind.  "Give away" (or "giveaway") is also ambiguous, since we sometimes give away priced, printed literature.  "Disclose" is a nice fit etymologically but has similar ambiguities.  "Liberate" is a little ambiguous, a little precious, and suggests an overcoming of resistance which is by no means intrinsic to OA. 

We could revive and hijack a rare word like "derestrict" or "debouche" (the way gamers revived and hijacked "avatar"), but could we find one that is less dry and technical-sounding?  We could coin a familiar-sounding new term like "openize" or "accessibilitate", but could we find one that is less nauseating?  We could coin an utterly new word like "fazz" or "jirp", but could we find one that actually suggests the intended meaning?

There's no prize in this contest except glory.  I'll summarize the results in the next issue, and may also post them to the SPARC Open Access Forum for further discussion. 

If the submissions aren't any better than "open", "debouche", "accessibilitate", and "fazz", then I won't pick a favorite or a winner, but I'll still share the results.  If there's an array of plausible contenders, one of them may catch fire with some of you and start to spread, becoming more acceptable as it goes.  But you can already sense some of my personal criteria:  Would the word be ambiguous (bad), pretentious (bad), sound like insider jargon (bad), or make OA itself sound technical and difficult (bad)?  Would it be short (good), sweet (good), and more or less self-explanatory (good)?

If other languages already have elegant solutions to this problem, I'd love to hear about them. 

Send me your ideas (peter dot suber at gmail dot com).  I'll assume that I may name and quote you unless you tell me otherwise.