Tablet, anyone?

Meaning of words have changed dramatically over time, especially in English.

When I announced a few months ago that I’d like to get myself a tablet, my mother really thought I was ill. Why do you want a tablet?

 She’d asked. It was then that I remembered that the word tablet could also mean medicine. What I meant, of course, was a tablet -- You know, the computer like device that runs an operating system. Food for thought, perhaps? 

The meanings of words have changed dramatically over time, especially in the English language it seems. A tablet could mean medicine or a tablet PC. A mouse could be the pointing device that clicks, or the little furry animal that squeaks. A virus could be a potentially disruptive and destructive programme, or it could be a microbe. No longer are clouds restricted to the sky. You can just as easily upload your files to cloud storage.

The word ‘friend’ too has altered its meaning somewhat. For example, friending someone on a social networking site need not necessarily mean that you know the individual in person. They’re just in your list, hence a ‘friend.’ Or, to take matters a step further, a ‘friend’ on a site like Facebook could very well be your grandfather. ‘Like’ too has so many connotations online. Announcing an unfortunate road accident with injuries may earn the poster hundreds of ‘likes’. The act of ‘liking’ something, of course, could just mean that the post in question was seen and acknowledged.

New words and slightly altered words are interesting to discover and use as well, like a disk. Which could mean a computer’s hard drive or a CD or something else. Phones don’t just call people anymore, they can also jerk you awake in the mornings with screechy alarms and retrieve your email. Many appliances have gone digital, and each brings with it fresh terminology. Uploading a file to cloud storage does not mean physically taking a paper file and throwing it at the sky. However, fun that might sound. Internet slang has a plethora of abbreviated spellings and words and smileys and acronyms. Scour any forum and find new words nearly each time you log on. YMMV.

Considering that the computer world has borrowed and rephrased so many words, it’s not surprising how meanings have changed. Getting mail could very well mean email. The net is the internet, not that thing with knots and rope that’ll tangle you in a snap. As long as one makes his or her context clear, communicating should be a snap. Right? Next time I want medicine, I should probably use my mother tongue. Easier that way.

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