I was reminded this morning about the fascinating evolution of language when I read an article published today online by PhysOrg.
This particular article was about how language change ‘sneaks in’: change consists of a series of smaller changes with each new change building on and following from the previous ones. Some words change parts of speech (verb to noun, for example), sometimes by adding a suffix, while other words change in meaning entirely. Others are descriptor words that are being applied in a context entirely different than before.
It started me thinking about words in English that have morphed from their original meaning to signify something else. There are many that have come into language recently, in the business world specifically (and in teenage slang, but that is a different blog). I believe they also offer commentary on how we do business and how we relate to colleagues and clients (yet another blog for you to look for).
Here are a few:
Ping me, meaning contact me via an instant message program like Windows Live Messenger or Microsoft Office Communicator. ‘Could you ping me later?’
Socialize (an idea), meaning to present an idea to others casually and see how they feel about it. For example, ‘Bill, I like this idea, but why don’t you socialize it a little bit before we take it to management?’
Skype me, as in contact me by calling me via a voice-over-internet web-application. (Which presumes the person you are requesting this of is planted in front of a computer or mobile device). For example, ‘If you see me online, please Skype me.’
Actionable, meaning something on which you can take action, as in ‘Is this idea actionable, or is it total vaporware’? This brings me to…
Vaporware, signifying an idea that is nothing but vapor: no substance whatsoever. ‘That thing Flock Consulting is selling sounds great, but it’s vaporware.’
To PowerPoint, meaning to articulate your argument or proposal or research in a PowerPoint presentation. Example, ‘Your 10-page report is confusing to me and I don’t have time to read it. Could you PowerPoint that for me?’
Gain traction, meaning to earn or gain support or that influence has occurred and the plan is moving forward. As in, ‘If this plan finally gains traction, we may reduce our operating costs’.
I also want to offer one from a particularly creative and sharp ex-colleague:
Open the kimono, as in to go forward in a business relationship with full disclosure. ‘Now, if you can get them to open their kimono, we can build a real solution for them!’
Are there others you can think of? Put them into the comments section below.
Read the PhysOrg article here.