Online language – looking at the alphabit…

As former journalists, all Deep South Media staff are aware of changing language and how best to use words to communicate messages. The internet created a whole new lexicon in super-quick time. Here, Senior Account Director Ed Baker, BI, looks at this new language and how it has fared…

wi-fly … the internet brought a whole new language, and some of it is dead already

The introduction of the internet and World Wide Web happened only a few short years ago, and it required a new lexicon; words invented to explain this invention that was transforming lives.

And because of the speed of that transformation these words often came, were used for a very short time, then disappeared.

They have gone from ‘new’ to ‘old fashioned’ more quickly than a schoolboy deleting his internet history.

Who says ‘World Wide Web’ anymore?

The World Wide Web is just the system we use to tap into the internet – and the distinction to the majority is irrelevant.

When giving out web addresses no-one starts ‘double-u, double-u, double-u, dot…’ as used to be the case.

‘Surfing’ the internet was once the way to describe internet ‘browsing’ – but it is seldom used now.

‘Silver surfers’ was the term used by younger generations to patronise the older members of society. But all ages use the internet now and the phrase has passed to cyber heaven.

‘Dial-up connections’, ‘egg-timers’ and the annoying Microsoft ‘paperclip’ called ‘Clippy’ are extinct – not before time.

As, thankfully, is the dreadful screeching noise from dial-up connections – unless a security service decides it’s the best torture technique to extract information from prisoners.

‘Buffering’ – the term used for digital stuttering – looks like it will soon be a thing of the past, thank goodness, as does the term ‘internet superhighway’.

Prefixing anything to do with the internet with the letter ‘e’ is not so popular now. The Telegraph newspaper’s ‘e-Telegraph’ edition is no more; but the prefix remains in words such as ‘email’ and ‘e-commerce’

Other terms generated by the new technology of the internet have positively flourished.

Take the versatile and hard-working word ‘spam’. What an existence these four letters have had.

‘Spam’ was created in the 1930s as a contraction of ‘spiced ham’ – that British culinary masterpiece, tinned meat.

Then in the 1970s it was used by Monty Python’s Flying Circus in a comedy sketch. It was the only lyric in a song that the troupe composed – how many other words can boast this?

And just when ‘spam’ was fading from the nation’s memory it was given new life as the word to describe junk emails and the like.

Today it remains extremely hard-working and it’s applied to more and more areas of life to describe repetitively annoying things.

The word ‘blog’ – a contraction of ‘web log’ – remains a hardy internet perennial, although how much of this is driven by the need for SEO remains to be seen.

‘SEO’ – there’s another spanking new term the internet has given us.

‘Webinars’, ‘refresh’, ‘threads’, ‘wi-fi, ‘hyperlinks’, ‘pop-ups’, ‘forums’ and ‘ether’ are all new terms, or existing terms given new meanings, thanks to the internet.

And with the pace of development so fast, we can expect new internet-related words entering the lexicon and being used in common parlance.

And I’d like to suggest a few:

ScreenStun – the act of staring at a web page because it’s in front of you – not because you are reading it or looking at it (often accompanied by gentle dribbling).

Werd – contraction of ‘web nerd’ – someone who is keen to let you know that they understand more about the internet than you do.

e-solation – the feeling of loss when away from internet access.

Printernet – ‘pre-internet’ – the halcyon days before Tim Burners-Lee gave us the World Wide Web.

BI/AI – like BC and AD – ‘Before Internet’ and ‘After Internet’. To be added after people’s names to denote whether they were born before or after the internet