I love idioms! I speak only two languages fluently, but I do have a proclivity for learn idioms in other languages. That’s not to say that I remember all of them, but idioms are a wonderful way of gaining insights to a culture as well.
We have a lot of English idioms, and many of them are inspired by technology. The thing is, we all know very well that technology advances very quickly. Many things we considered hi-tech as kids may not be “extinct” and unknown to today’s children. What happens to the idioms tied to tech then?
Last month, PCWorld published an interesting article that got my attention – Idioms Lost to Tech. ((Idioms Lost to Tech)) They listed down 20 tech idioms that are in danger or already extinct.
I applaud the concept, but I am not sure about the labels they use – in danger or extinct. For example, the first idiom cited is to “sound like a broken record“. Many of the kids today (especially those who are not yet in their teens) might not have held a vinyl record in their hands. I don’t even remember the last time I did that myself! This idiom is definitely rooted in old technology, although I would not say it is extinct. Then again, it is understandable if the idiom does go out of use simply because its roots are not in circulation anymore. I do think, however, that it will not go away for quite some time, as it is still used a lot and it is easy enough to explain what a record is. What do you think?
Another technology-inspired idiom is “Kodak moment“. It used to be that photography was synonymous (or almost synonymous) to Kodak. Then other players came into the picture. Recently, though, we all heard about Kodak filing for bankruptcy. This indeed might not bode well for the idiom in the long term. Do you think it would change to “[INSERT POPULAR CAMERA BRAND] moment” instead?
The idiom “cog in the machine” came to mind as I was reading the article. With the average person not being exposed to cogs, machines, and what have you these days, this idiom may very well die out. Maybe someone will come up with an expression about chips in the motherboard or something like that?
Truth be told, I do not think we can overlook the fact that language is dynamic, and with these idioms being connected to technology, which is even more dynamic, the possibility the idioms falling prey to not being used is very real. Then again, if putting messages in a bottle is still understood today, who is to say that broken records and Kodak moments will not be understood by our children and their children as well?
Photo via Peter Organisciak
Vijay Khosla says
The article is interesting. I do agree that all the ‘three idioms’ quoted are ‘out of fashion’, especially the ‘Kodak moment’ and ‘sounds like a broken record’. Though, ‘cog in the machine’ is prevalent and used by the older generation (like me).