Wednesday, September 28, 2005


When I arrived at work the other day, a new reference book entitled Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology awaited. I was a Spanish major and have studied a couple of other languages as well and consider myself much more of a language person than a computer person so I was thinking about something my professor mentioned in class, a term called gopher. He didn't go into detail but said that nobody gophers anymore, that gophering was passé. This of course only piqued my curiosity. I found no entry for the term in the encyclopedia but the term was indexed and mentioned in the entry on the Internet (and my professor was right, it was named after the mascot at the U. of Minnesota). A quick search online reveals that there were some hardcore holdouts who did not want to give up gophering, there was even a gopher manifesto.

As a language person, what fascinates me the most about the language of computing, let's call it computerese, is how quickly it integrates and discards new terms. New words can take a long time to become mainstream in English (though this is also being changed by the computer age) but in computerese, a word (or at least a particular meaning for a word) that was not even coined 15 years ago is now deemed archaic!


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