I have a long standing interest in language, especially the origins of words and remember, quite proudly, when I got my first etymological dictionary. Language of course, like just about everything, evolves over time. Words are continually added to our lexicon just as many words fall out of usage and disappear. For example, think about these three words: Abacus and electronic calculator. These words describe a device that does the same thing, although the first one dates back to around 2,400 BC, while the “modern” calculator has only been around since late 1960s. And if you really want to be picky, the word “electronics” has only been around since the late 1940s!
Oftentimes, although I can only speak for the English language, words that we know and use on a regular basis, are re-purposed and given an additional meaning, just to make life interesting! While this practice has been going on for quite some time, in the last 60-70 years there has been a “virtual” explosion of high-tech words and acronyms that have made their way into our language. These neologisms (new words or new senses of existing words), especially in the world of tech, are necessitated by new inventions and discoveries that existing words cannot properly explain, although many might argue that the new words created don’t explain very much either, unless of course you are one of them!
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some of the words I’m referring to (get a coffee, it’s a long list): Big Data; Buzzword Compliant; Cache; Cloud Computing; Collider; Cookie; Cyberspace (Only some will know that this word was first coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel Neuromancer); De-Duping; Emoji; Emoticon; Firewall; Flash; Flash Drive; God Particle (I wish I was making these up, but I’m not!); Google; Green Washing (I’m told this has nothing to do with preparing dinner); Hadron (If you had to read this twice you’re not alone); iMac; iPad; iPhone; iPod; iWatch (Be on the lookout for the iDefibrillator, you might need one before you finish reading); Large Hadron Collider (See above!); Megapixel; Metaverse (Don’t even get me started); Nano; Petaflop; Plasma.
Had enough? Sorry, there’s more: Resonate; Robust; Router; Social Discovery (I cannot imagine); Solar Max; Solid State; Solution; SnapChat; The Cloud; The Next Big Thing; TikTok; Tweet; Twitter; Versioning; Virtual; Virtualization; Virtual Reality; Web; Web 2.0 (I’ve heard that Web 3.0 is on the drawing board); Word Clouds; Wordle; Worm. Take a deep breath. . .Now the acronyms, which are even more fun: HTML; HTTP; LAN; SOA (By the way, this one on the lists I’ve looked at is always voted as the most confusing – It stands for: Solutions Oriented Architecture!). USB; VoIP, WAN; And finally, WiFi.
For those of you that are still awake, I just wanted to mention that I will spare you my interpretation of many of these words and acronyms. However, I will share this gem that I read explaining Petaflop: It means a thousand trillion (or quadrillion) floating operations per second. This word is often mistaken for a comment on a failed program by an animal rights group!
If the coffee is gone, I would switch to alcohol and the sooner the better!
Los Angeles 2022