Technological transmogrification: the evolution of language

Technology is an ever-growing and developing social construction - from the Archimedes screw to the Blu-ray disk. Not only with technology, our language has evolved to a point where entirely new dialects and words have been plucked out of nowhere and thrust into everyday life; unlike Icelandic which is one of the very few languages we have which doesn't change.

Technology is an ever-growing and developing social construction - from the Archimedes screw to the Blu-ray disk. Not only with technology, our language has evolved to a point where entirely new dialects and words have been plucked out of nowhere and thrust into everyday life; unlike Icelandic which is one of the very few languages we have which doesn't change.

With popular words coined from excessive usage, "Google" as a good example, new words are being added to the dictionaries every day. Revisiting an old post of mine, I continue to look at the words which have been plucked from ordinary usage and thrown into the technological arena.

Windows: when my mother told me she was "installing new Windows", I was quite astounded. She isn't very geeky, and uses Windows Vista on her laptop with the Windows Classic theme. After enquiring at such an event, she told me how much it cost - far more than I expected for a copy of Windows. Up until this point, I had no idea that the living room windows were being ripped out and double-glazed were to be put in their place. Naive, I was, to think that she was on about Microsoft's brainchild.

Virus: back in the day when viruses used to kill people, the terminology has changed to almost only include computer related malware. The recent outbreak of H1N1 swine flu was deemed an "epidemic" or a "disease", when in fact it is a virus. I have barely heard it being called a virus, possibly due to the fact the word has been entirely turned from a biological weapon into a computer-baddie.

BlackBerry: when I was a young lad, here in England we have bridle paths where horses and walkers would enjoy the country scenery. Wherever there was a bridle path you would find blackberries. How weird would it be if you came across an overgrown bush with BlackBerry devices growing on it? Sure, it would be a cheap way to get a new phone, and they could safely say they were grown in a carbon-neutral environment, but it would be a little daft to say the least.

Mobile: when my godchildren were little (well, they still are, but Zoe is a fair bit older than her younger brother), with a main road going by their house, they would sometimes find it difficult to sleep. In that case, we'd dangle something distracting from the ceiling so when she would lie in bed, she would have something to slowly lull her to sleep. In the same concept as the BlackBerry bush (above), it would be weird to have a series of cell phones ("mobiles") dangling from the ceiling. Having said that, it would be more distracting if somebody rang and they weren't on the silent setting.

Cell: again, the same concept, once again, but the word has modern connotations. Microbiologists used to love using the word but now, with it being almost-entirely replaced with that of a calling device, it's getting them confused. Considering the vast majority of them have at least a doctorate in a highly skilled medical field, their levels of rationality exceed those of common sense.

Trojan: both the younger and the elder generation will take pride in knowing each definition of the context. The brand of condoms for the younger generation (because old people simply don't have sex, it's a sociological fact) and for the elder generation it's an integral part of ancient Greek mythology. So, even though the modern day Trojan gets the name from the horse concept, I worry that many kids nowadays will only know of this in its current context, and forget about Greek mythology entirely.

Cookie: quite possibly the most ridiculous word derived from an ordinary non-technological context. Why would a website data holding snippet be referred to something commonly embedded with chocolate chips? There reaches a point when these words are being created where I am adamant they are simply screwing with us to see how far they can push us. No wonder people from the older generation get confused with the jargon; even I do from time to time,

Spam: this is news to me as I have been vegetarian for 17 years now, but spam as a food - a jellied, pink, meat product which wobbles slightly when you poke it. Whenever I think of "spam", I don't automatically think of junk email, which I feel it should more formally be known, I think of the gelatinous processed meat product. Myths behind the name of "spam" (junk email) have been rife for years, but irregardless of this, the meat product is on the rise again and soon a distinction will need to be given.

Tweet: back in the day when we were all little, some of us were exposed to "breaking technology" - that being a talking audio book designed for children. "A cow goes... moooo". "A duck goes... quack". "A bird goes... tweet". Well not any more it doesn't. Birds officially stopped tweeting in 2006, when Twitter bought up the intellectual copyright to the word and the sound. So if you are out with the family in the countryside, spare an ear and listen carefully - blissful silence, because the birds sing and tweet no more.