Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes – You Want a What?


I like my local tech store, really, I do. But I only visit the store about every six months and in that time, things change. Like most stores, they occasionally move inventory from one place to another. So, each time I visit, I have to ask the clerk, (AKA * sales person, agent, representative, techie, team member) where I can find a specific item.

Since my tech vocabulary isn’t up to date, the conversation usually goes something like this:   “Hi. Can you tell me where to find the memory sticks or the thumb drive thingies?”

There is a blank stare from the clerk (sales person, agent, representative, techie, team member) and then they reply, “Your looking for a what?”

I respond in my pre-tech language,  “You know, that little thing you plug into the side of the computer so you can copy something from the computer.”

“Oh! You mean the flash drives. Right over here. I’ll show you.”

The language of tech changes very rapidly, probably more rapidly than any language in human history. But all language changes, even if it is at snail-mail speed.

For example, here are some phrases and terms from a  novel set in San Francisco in the 1880’s.


Mare’s Shank

Lucifer (not a biblical reference)

carbon copy



(Just kidding. The last three are from the 1960’s)

Some fun books to read about San Francisco in the 1880’s (pre-earthquake) are Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini’s Carpenter and Quincannon mystery series featuring a male and female detectives and M. Louise Locke’s mystery series featuring a female business woman and a male attorney.  Both series are very well researched. If you have ever visited or lived in San Francisco, or even read about it, these books help you realize how far San Francisco has come and how much our language has changed.

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