Thursday, May 22, 2014

Word Odyssey: For Geek Pride Day, Some Hi-Tech Terms

Posted By on Thu, May 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM

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May 25th is Geek Pride Day. And why not; everyone else has a day, even fools. So, to honor the day, and feed your inner geek, I thought it might be the proper occasion to explore some hi-tech terms.

Let’s start with hi-tech itself. For that I need to begin with technology, which is a compound of two Greek words, “techno”, meaning “art or skill, and “logia”, which means a treatise or discourse. Technology came into English in the early 1600’s meaning a treatise on skilled arts and crafts. Its meaning later narrowed so that it referred more specifically to the body of knowledge of mechanical arts and sciences—technical know-how.

Hi-tech illustrates two common ways that language evolves: people shorten words and compound them, which is how we got hi-tech. The first documented use was a mention of a hi-tech home in the 1972 Whole Earth Catalogue. As a standalone contraction, tech came later, when in the 1980’s it referred to industries specializing in, well, technology. Techie began as college slang for students in technical fields, then expanded to anyone knowledgeable in the technical details that for most of us cause our eyes to glaze over. 

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