Lingo retro: Things change, but words remain the same

  • Article by: RANDY A. SALAS , STAR TRIBUNE
  • Updated: February 3, 2009 - 5:38 AM

There are many examples of words that haven't kept up with our constantly evolving technology. We press buttons to make a phone call, yet we still call it "dialing" a number.

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xjritterFeb. 2, 09 9:31 PM

They have a term for using new words to describe old technology: retronym. For example, "acoustic guitar", and "film camera". What's my term for using old words to describe new technology? How about "simpletechnym" or "backtechnym" -- defined as using simpler or past technology to describe new technology. OKAY -- you do better then! :)

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thehoffersFeb. 3, 09 7:34 AM

Rotary Dial is the actual term for the people who spend an entire minute of research. Another 60 seconds worth of time in a dictionary reveals that a dial is simply a control register. It doesn't have to be restricted to the original version invented in the 1920s.

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bjkramerFeb. 3, 09 7:44 AM

Continuing to use familiar - but obsolete - terminology isn't new. When I was a kid in the 1960s my grandparents still called the refrigerator an "icebox." And yes, I'm still looking for the "return" key on my computer keyboard...

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jmlandryFeb. 3, 09 8:13 AM

Is it a sofa, a couch or a davenport? Where did these goofy words originate???

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linuxguyFeb. 3, 09 8:20 AM

Our digital clocks don't have a direction...

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RipAndersonFeb. 3, 0910:36 AM

"Davenport" was the brand name of popular line of sofas [or couches; sofa is a synonym for couch] made by the A.H. Davenport Company. The company is long gone but the genericized trademark "Davenport" lives on as a synonym for sofa [or couch].

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msampsonFeb. 3, 09 2:07 PM

The whole point of this story is that we continue to say we "dial" a phone or "turn" something on even when there is no dial or anything to turn. But "video" simply means "something seen", i.e., originally the picture on a TV as contrasted to the sound; then a movie (I define "movie" very broadly to mean any moving image) made available for home use, originally on a videotape and now in other formats like laserdisk, DVD or now downloadable from the Internet, and (in the case of music videos) the movie itself. Nothing in the word "video" implies a specific storage format for the moving-image information, so why shouldn't we call a DVD, laserdisk or computer download a video?

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msampsonFeb. 4, 0911:49 AM

Something else just occurred to me about my post yesterday: if "America's Funniest Home Videos" had been on about 25, 30 years ago it would likely be called "America's Funniest Home Movies". Same idea, different storage format

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