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Five new words for tech buffs

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Posted: 
February 28, 2019
Written by: Marc-André Descôteaux , Language Portal of Canada

Do you remember when the words “modem” and “diskette” were brand new? Then, when the Internet came into our lives, we quickly adopted “downloading” and “email.” More recently, with the spread of smart phones, the terms “texting” and “selfie” have become part of our everyday vocabulary.

English speakers regularly create new words (called “neologisms”) to designate new realities. That’s why language is a living organism! In my post, I’ll introduce you to a few neologisms that are related to new technology.

Keeping it short

In a fast-paced world, who has time to read or write lengthy posts or messages? Sometimes we just want to post a picture, share a funny video or tell our friends how we’re feeling. Well, there are apps for that: Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Instagram, just to name a few. Putting brief texts, photos, hyperlinks, audio files, etc., on such platforms is called microblogging.Footnote * TERMIUM Plus®, the Government of Canada’s terminology and linguistic data bank, defines the term as “the act of posting and sharing short messages online.” It’s also spelled “micro-blogging.”

Too much information

Faced with the massive amounts of information available on the Internet, we can end up feeling overwhelmed. When the amount of information we receive is so excessive that it becomes difficult or even impossible to process, we suffer from information overload, also called infobesity. This amusing blend word, formed from “information” and “obesity,” reminds us of the importance of taking in information selectively … and sparingly!

Too many options

You’ve almost certainly had an experience like this: You start reading an article on a given subject such as, say, electricity. You click on a link, and then another, and another. After a while, you find yourself reading the lyrics of a song by Justin Bieber. How in the world did you get there? Well, you’ve been wilfing, that is, wandering from link to link on the Internet to the point where you’ve forgotten the goal of your initial search. The word comes from the acronym “WILF,” which stands for “What was I looking for?”

From pen name to alias

Throughout history, for various reasons, writers have chosen to publish under a false name to conceal their identity. The act of assuming a false or fictitious name, especially in writing, is known as pseudonymity. Today, on the web, identities disguised by aliases, or pseudonyms, have become quite common. Pseudonymity is part of our daily experience as Internet users.

Let’s play

Do you know the word gamification? It’s formed from the word “game” and refers to the use of game mechanics in a situation other than a game, to make an activity more entertaining to users or accomplish a goal. What does this definition mean in practical terms? When a forum gives you a bronze, silver or gold status depending on the number of posted messages, or when a site gives you a “badge” or “sticker” for helping other users or reaching a milestone, that’s gamification in action. Inspired by video games, this technique encourages you to write more, to contribute more, to be a better web citizen!

Are you as fascinated as I am by the creativity of English speakers and by new English words? If so, I’d like you to share some neologisms with me. Send me your words in the comments section, and don’t forget to include their definitions!


Adapted by: Line Lalande, Language Portal of Canada

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The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

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About the author

Marc-André Descôteaux

A translator and reviser for about 20 years, Marc-André Descôteaux has been interested in the web since the days of the 2400-baud modem. Insatiably curious, he is passionate about culture, travel and language. He is delighted to contribute to the Language Portal of Canada team.

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