Thursday, October 13, 2011

Old Words, New Hi-Tech Meanings

We used to "surf" the ocean, now we "surf" the web. "Chips" came in a bag until they came in a PC. That dude on your forum? If he's a "troll," then what's eating goats under my bridge? In recent years, many common-place words have become technologically charged, and I think it's fantastic.

In ancient times, words were invented by association. Words had "roots," and you could trace back a word's meaning based on those roots (think: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and everything stemming from bizarre Greek terms). In American English, though, we're usually stuck with bunch of left-overs. We have a lot from Britain, some rollover from France (e.g. cul de sac, chauffeur, bouquet), and your friendly neighborhood German (e.g. kindergarten, angst, delicatessen). But with the rise of the digital age, we've actually needed new words. The result: a wonderful display of English metaphors, adoptions, and combinations resulting in a new, high-tech vocabulary. Let's take a look:

Then: A marker placed in a book to help keep one's place on a page
Now: A digital marker linking to a previously viewed location, such as a webpage

Then: Worn on the foot; as in "pull yourself up by your bootstraps"
Now: Worn above the operating system; as in "start yourself up by your boot sequence"

Then: A small, pesky creature; gross
Now: A small software problem; still pesky

Then: To destroy with fire; we hope you had a copy
Now: To make a copy; go destroy the original with fire

Then: Tasty, crunchy, and last a while in the bag
Now: Small, crunchy, and obsolete before they reach your computer

Then: A musical instrument with 88 keys
Now: A data-entry instrument with over 100 keys

Then: A squeaky, cheese-loving rodent with a tail
Now: A click-y, mouse-pad loving device with a cord

Then: Something to catch fish, junk, messages-in-a-bottle, or the occasional angry dolphin
Now: A place to buy fish, read junk, send messages, and play Angry Birds

Then: Sticky stuff; used by children to finish school projects
Now: Sticking in someone else's words; used by students to finish essays

Then: The person who brought you your food
Now: The machine that brings you your data

Then: Questionable, over-marketed, and the majority of a soldier's diet
Now: Questionable, over-marketed, and the majority of all email sent (over 80% in recent years)

Then: A place to watch live fish, or spend time wading
Now: An opportunity to watch live videos, or spend time waiting

Then: Riding the waves until you wipe out
Now: Scanning the Internet until you pass out

Then: Named the owner of the luggage in the airport
Now: Names the owner of the face in the photograph

Then: An ugly, gross, and unwanted creature of the night
Now: [no change]

Then: A sound a bird made when talking to other birds; unintelligible to humans
Now: A 140-character post on Twitter, full of @ mentions and # tags; unintelligible to humans

Then: A biological infection-causing agent
Now: A computer program capable of replication

Then: A spider's home
Now: Everyone's home, online

Then: Rectangular, glassy, and too hard to close
Now: Rectangular, glassy, and too easy to close

Other noteworthy terms include: apple, buffer, cell, hack, handle, load, memory, network, open, ping, post, shortcut, text, thread, window.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have something to say? Add to the conversation!