Archive for the ‘the creation of words’ Category

You’ve used them texting or tweeting in order to save time or characters. But why on earth would anyone create restaurant names like “Thir13en” or a theatre “2econd Stage Theatre” or title for a TV show “Numb3rs”? When reading it silently to yourself, no problem. But how do you pronounce it if, say, you’re on the phone: “Meet me at <?>” you usually wind up spelling it out. 

OK, they are clever, they substitute numerals for letters in a way that looks original and ties the meaning of the numerals to the concept of the name. When you see them you can grasp their originality or playfulness. But when you have to speak them or spell them to someone, usually the explanation creates more confusion that the creator took into consideration.

Urls have used them for years as a way to get around already taken domain names. But in the real world, yes, this might create an original name for your business but is it memorable? Will it last the test of time? What kind of image does it give your brand? Don’t let visually oriented people on your team fall in love with this cutesy way out of a naming problem. And if you think only urls and business names have become victim to this trend, I hear that people are going the numword route in naming their kids! That to me is “dumwords”.


“Shorthand” the writing of common English words eliminating letters has been around for decades. So has jargon and slang that use words specific to an industry or social group. But with the advent of texting, and Twitter, you could say new modern “languages” have been born.

Twitter is really more like a word game. It challenges you to communicate within the confines of its 140 character limitation. Sort of like a journalist having to come up with a good short headline for a story. Only on Twitter you can contract words, leave out letters, or use words that are familiar with your readers but which other groups wouldn’t understand. (Read some of Lady Gaga’s Tweets and you’ll get the idea – who the heck are “little Monsters”???!)

Texting doesn’t put a limit on characters or the number of words but like old fashioned shorthand, it is easier to type a message using special words or leaving out letters. I believe this grew from the fact that your keyboard is so tiny, eliminating keystrokes makes typing the message easier. It took me forever to learn how to “thumb” a message (using my other fingers was a nightmare) and I still am amazed when I see a man with huge “paws” entering a message quickly on a tiny device!

 The result is that people have become so used to communicating in this “shorthand” language, that even at a full sized computer keyboard they don’t want to type out full words. Young people have an especially hard time switching from shorthand to normal English. This, of course, impedes communications such as work related correspondence or creating a job search cover letter that sounds professional.

It has also created what used to be called “slang”, words specific to a certain subculture, that are not in the dictionary. First is was using letters to describe things like the infamous LOL. Then it morphed into respelling words so they were shortened like substituting the numeral 4 instead of spelling “for”. Or getting real cre8tive just for the heck of it. Of course there are the totally new words like “hash tag” that in itself spawned “bashtagging” (bashing a company on Twitter using its own hash tag). Or giving a word another meaning for example a “Tweet” once meant only the sound a bird makes! Good or bad? Well, it’s always been said that language is a living thing and changes over time. We don’t speak the way they did in Shakespeare’s day, so why not #change?

Here are a few websites that will have you laughing, (or should I say twittering) or teach you a thing or two about these new “languages”:

Mashable’s Twitterspeak

A dictionary of Twitter words

For texting there are just too many good ones. So type “texting vocabulary” into your search engine of choice and have fun surfing the results!


This word would be especially useful to us senior folks!

Exhaustipated: Just too tired to give a shit.

Over the last 3 decades inventors in garages and corporate labs have created a whole slew of gadgets that not only delighted us and occasionally drove us crazy, but also changed who we are and how we relate to each other. In the process of naming these devices they gave birth to new words and phrases.

Ever wonder when these words were born? Here is a list of the most popular ones:

Cellphone – in 1983 Motorola introduced its DynaTAC 8000x, weighing in at 2lbs and costing $4,000!

Laptop – Though hardly considered a device you could place on your lap, the Compaq Portable launched in 1983 was the first portable computer, and weighed in at a hefty 28 lbs. But it set the trend for smaller and smaller machines.

Karaoke – this machine was invented in 1983 and has led to lots of fun, stupidity, and embarrassment.

Caller ID – in 1984 BellSouth introduced this invention and revolutionized the way we respond to telephone calls.

Digital camera – “digital” and “camera” have been around for decades. But in 1986 Kodak married the two into a pricey camera for professional photographers. Eight years later Apple produced the first consumer version and the way we view our world hasn’t been the same since!

PowerPoint – Where would speakers be without this invention that Microsoft unveiled for the PC platform in 1990?

Doppler Radar – in 1990 it became a household word as weather forecasters brought up-to-the-minute images to TV.

Lithium rechargeable battery– Originally making its debut in the Sony camcorder in 1991, this revolutionary battery made possible the powering of all those power hungry devices developed since then.

DirectTV (home satellite TV) – Once dishes were so pricey and large, they’d pull down your house if you mounted one on your roof! Then in 1994 (yes they’ve been around that long!) DirectTV launched its services with smaller versions for restaurants and bars (or your backyard). In time technology made them so small that they now can be mounted outside your window. Today as competition to cable services, they have popped up on rooftops like mushrooms, the 21st century’s version of the antenna.

DVD – in 1995 Americans traded their video cassettes for hours of extended movie watching with behind the scenes specials, outtakes and bloopers included.

GPS – (The Global Positioning System) originally developed in the 1970s by the US department of Defense it took until 1995 for Oldsmobile to introduce the first GPS navigation system available in a car, called GuideStar.

Blackberry – in 1999 an obscure Canadian company, Research in Motion, produced this mobile e-mail device.

TiVo – This gadget is now used as a verb (as in “I’m Tivo-ing Survivor tonight”) and changed TV viewing habits for millions after it was shipped in 1999.

iPod – where would music be without this device. Introduced in 2001 by Apple, it would become the most popular portable music player available.