Fashion, Language, Psychology

I Can Keyboard, Apparently

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Image by astize from Pixabay

There has been a fashion in language recently that annoys me, unsurprisingly. I don’t know whether it has emerged from the short-form, limited text length of Tweets or laziness or people just having too much to say and too little time. The issue is people leaving out large and often important parts of sentences while at the same time using a noun as a verb.

For example in TV and radio adverts: “I can best friend” “I can family” “I can daughter” “We can football” (Virgin Media) which don’t even describe what you’d be doing, how do you “family”? A while back an advert encouraged people to “Adult like a boss” or something similar, the emphasis being that “Adult” is something you do rather than something you are, maybe the ads aren’t written by adults.

Uswitch used to turn it up to eleven with “U niche hobby, U model aeroplane, U guitar solo, U feet up” – though shortly before I finished this they changed theirs to real English with lines like “You start a new hobby” and “you learn the guitar”. Maybe it’s not just me.

Then there is a fashion for car stickers that say “Because Fiesta” or Ibiza or Trabant. Because what, exactly? At least they say “because” rather than “cos”.

Some names do become verbs, like to Hoover and to Google but “Are you ready to Butlins?“, you might as well say “are you ready to Cromer?” or “Scarborough” for that matter and as for “I don’t gym, I Hustle” – when did it become too much effort to say “go to the (gym)”. Similarly “Time to Travel Republic”.  These all smack of both laziness and the idea that it’s cool to eschew proper language, of marketers trying to conform to the zeitgeist. The Butlins one is accompanied by the slogan “winning at holidays”, a kind of statement which seems to be part of the fashion for aggressive or at least competitive language in which you’ve got to beat everyone else at whatever you’re doing which also could explain the short, snappy lines.

Anyway I’m off for a sit down now. I can Sofa. Because Tea.

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Psychology, Society, Tech

Anglicise This

Map Showing UK

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The internet is a global community and a place where, through ordinary communication, we can learn about other cultures.

However, I have noticed a subtle trend in where articles republished to a localised blog (say from MyTechBlog US to MyTechBlog UK) with all references to dollars, potato chips, inches and Walmart being altered to pounds, crisps, centimetres and Asda are guaranteed to receive comments along the lines of “for goodness sake chaps, can’t you anglicise this a tad”, or words to that effect.  If however this is done to an article written by an American living in New York, talking about a new product and suddenly uses English terms it can jar a little and in some ways seems false, like watching a film where the lead characters words have been dubbed badly, but only on every tenth word.  “I’m off to the pub on 25th Avenue to watch the game and have a steak and a pint” – I know there are pubs in the US and they serve pints but we know the generally accepted terms are bar and beer – how do I know this, I watch American TV shows where Americans use American English.

I’ll admit that sometimes you have to edit for regional sensibilities and to avoid offence (the word fanny comes to mind) but even a brief explanation “I put it under the grill (or broiler)” works.  Of course if a really obscure word crops up, we do have this wonderful thing called the internet on which you can find an explanation – I even recently found a guidebook for London that contained a handy US-UK translation section in the back containing such items as “First Floor = Second Floor” “Jumper = Sweater” “Gob = Mouth” and “Pissed = Drunk” oh and “Bit of Alright = Attractive (of girls)”.

I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that it does niggle (slightly annoy) me when people in this country replace perfectly adequate words we have used happily for years with specifically American alternatives such as saying “going on vacation” rather than “going on holiday” but we have also adopted many useful Americanisms and anyway it is a two-way street as our US friends now have to contend with their word for crisps now appearing over there in Fish ‘n Chips which should surely be Fish ‘n Fries?

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Meta, Society, Tech, Uncategorized

Crappy Writers

Typebars in a 1920s typewriter

Typebars in a 1920s typewriter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t want to sound all Holier Than Thou in this post, but I’m going to anyway.  I write this blog, by myself, for no money, I am a blogger.  There are many other commercial blogs out there that contain writers who like to say “we’re journalists” but “we’re bloggers” if someone questions their professional standards.

One thing that always provokes the latter is when someone questions the tone of a piece or the non-impartiality of the writer.

One thing that keeps cropping up that bugs me is the use of the word “crappy”, in fact the title of this piece is actually “‘Crappy’ Writers” –  you see, I’m not being personal.  At all.  Honestly.

You see it regularly when describing gear that the writer feels is not to their liking, or is a bit old, and seems to be said in a kind of nod to the knowing audience who would of course all be agreeing.  Recent examples include a preview of an un-released tablet from a company that wasn’t Apple being described as “another crappy tablet” even though the spec hadn’t been announced and nobody had seen it and a photo taken from one aircraft of another which was taken not with a high-end DSLR worth thousands but with a “crappy Canon ELPH”.  Was it an appallingly bad photo?  No, especially as it was taken from a moving aircraft and was a photo of two other moving aircraft.  As we all know “at the end of the day the best camera is the one you have with you.”  In reality at the end of the day the best camera is the one with a tripod, or a flash, the rest of the day anything will do.  Sorry.

The crappy word isn’t always said, I’ve seen articles about a new phone or chipset saying “but if you’re reading this website you won’t want it because it’s a budget phone” oh so being interested in tech is limited to the well-off now is it?

If there’s a justification, then say it’s not a brilliant piece of kit, review it properly but to say that someone’s camera is crappy just because it’s not this year’s wi-fi connected, app enabled wondersnapper is unfair.  As is describing something that’s aimed at the less well off as crappy just because it’s not got a Ultra HD Full-Eyeball Neural Screen.

Not everyone can afford (or be given) the latest, top of the range kit, so how about holding back the longer c-word for the genuinely crap.

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Society, Tech

Thinking In Computer

BBC Key Pins

BBC Key Pins (Photo credit: barnoid)

In recent years computer makers have strived to make interfaces more “user friendly” but they have in fact been trying to hide the workings behind the facade.  With this change has also come a change in learning as the emphasis has been on teaching the use of the software, the assumption being that skills in spreadsheets and wordprocessing, email etc being the valuable skills.

As a report by the BBC shows software is now part of the architecture of modern life and as with spoken languages understanding the underlying concepts is important, as they put it, being able to write in computer (creating) as well as reading it (by using it).  In order to be able to innovate you need to be able to fit concepts into the the way computers work and to do this you need to understand more than the vocabulary of the language.

The misunderstanding of how computers work is often the reason for many people’s frustration with things that don’t work as they expect them to no matter how hard developers try to simplify things.  As the article says our world is ‘computer assisted’ and the more we live with computers and their innate complexity the more people should understand how they work in the same way that some knowledge of how a car works can make someone a better driver and less likely to exceed the limits of what it can do.

[BBC]

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