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Answers For The Workplace E-Memo

Netspeak Spills Over

According to an Associated Press story that came out in March of 2003, we’re changing the way we talk about the Internet, and we’re also changing the way we talk because of the Internet.

What was commonly called “cyberspace” is now just “the web” or “the ‘net.” It’s an example of terminology becoming more practical as the Internet becomes more of a standard tool in the workplace. But perhaps more interesting – and maybe more fun – is the spillover of ‘net vocabulary into our everyday speech.

One example is use of the word “google.” Playing on the brand name of a popular online search engine, to “google" someone or something means to investigate someone or check something out.

Another example is the word “ping.” It was originally used as a sonar term in the Navy, and then by computer techs to check to see if a computer was operating online. But now “pinging someone” can mean calling that person’s office or trying to access them using instant messaging (IM) software to see if he or she is in.

Of course, it’s usually those people who use the Internet a lot who will be the first to introduce these phrases and their new meanings to your workplace. And so I perceive that etymology, the study of word origins, has a new branch: e-tymology – the study of Internet word origins.
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