Over the past few decades, technology has advanced at cracking speed, and the beautifully malleable English language has absorbed a multitude of new uses and meanings, as well as some totally new words. The language of technology is becoming less and less an area of jargon and increasingly a part of our everyday speech. Just as technology itself is woven into the very fabric of our lives.
The English lexicon is expanding like a pair of elasticated trousers, as English speakers gobble up more and more technological terms. Some of the newbie expressions are traditional words used in a new way.
In addition to “top of a desk”, the definition of desktop now includes “desktop computer”. A window is not only a “glazed opening”, but also a “graphical control element” in a computer programme.
Quite a few nouns have taken on the role of verbs. For example: message (he said he’d message me); text (have you texted your mum?); architect (an IT architect is someone who architects a computer programme or system); friend (He friended me. Shall I friend him back?); game (kids love gaming).
Many of the brand-new words that have come into existence through technological channels are blends and portmanteaux of existing words that are mostly self-explanatory at first sight – or first hearing.
Blog, for instance is an abbreviation of web log. Following the same format, a vlog is a video log.
This portmanteau of screen and teenager means a “young person with an aptitude for technology”.
The song Screenagers was released by Muse in 2001, and Screenagers is also the title of a 2016 movie about family life in the digital age.
The term screenager, however, has occasionally been used to convey a different meaning. In 1957, a Canadian publication (The Ottawa Citizen) reported on crazed teenagers reacting to the appearance of Tommy Steele at an event in Sweden, describing the fans as screen-agers and also scream-agers! A 1985 article in a US publication (The Hartford Courant), entitled Screenagers, put forward an objection to the way in which teenagers were portrayed on screen.
Although it’s just a tad concerning that there’s a need to define the physical world, as opposed to the virtual world (cyberspace), it’s heartening to see evidence of the fact that the two are not being confused and lumped into one single reality.
A portmanteau of the prefix cyber (in recent decades pertaining to digital technology) and hypochondriac. The word describes someone who is always worried about their own health, and obsessively searches the Internet for information about medical conditions.
A phablet is a smartphone with a larger screen than your typical smartphone. This portmanteau of phone and tablet describes a device with a screen size between that of a phone and a tablet.
A wonderfully descriptive word meaning to search the Internet for mentions of your own name and references or links to your website.
The Language of Technology
In writing this article, I was interested to discover that two of the featured words were not recognised by the latest version (2019) of Microsoft Word. Actually, I was surprised to find that all the others were!
The two words that haven’t made their way into all vocabulary lists are meatspace and egosurf.
Article produced for and on behalf of Fortify247 by Hazel @ Folio Copywriting.