Pre-Archaic Industrial Jargon

Ronald Butters ronbutters at AOL.COM
Mon Mar 12 13:37:51 UTC 2012

It is useful to distinguish between anachronism and subreption. 

"Your phone is ringing" is not an anachronism--the meaning has essentially the same as it was before, it is simply that the technology has changed, a common process that is sometimes labeled SUBREPTION in historical lexicography. I would say much the same thing about "address book" and "dial the wrong number." Even "he hung upon me" means the same thing whether one is using a land line with a cord, a cordless land line, or a cell phone. Note that a book is still a book, even if it is an e-book. A house is largely not the same thing today as it was in 900AD, but it would seem odd to call today's usage an "anachronism," which I would reserve for  the use of a word or phrase that was formally used but is no longer (e.g., "bawdy-house"; "caution" = 'amusing person'; "that was" in "General Dunstaple had married Miss Hughes that was"), or using a word in a way that it is not longer used (e.g,. PHOTOGRAM instead of PHOTOGRAPH).

I don't know what "Pre-Archaic Industrial Jargon" means. I would not classify "hang up the phone" as either "industrial" or "jargon," and I doubt seriously that it will become "archaic."

On Mar 12, 2012, at 3:10 AM, W Brewer wrote:

> At ease, men. Here is what I originally wrote: WB: << Anachronyms. My
> favorites are telephone expressions. Hang up your phone, it is off the
> hook. Phone is ringing. I dialed the wrong number. Address book. Yellow
> pages.>> My message was a stream-of-unconscious list of expressions
> surviving social/technological change intact (lexical inertia). The older
> Windows software tended to keep familiar terminology to ease the transition
> from snail mail to e-mail: mailbox, address book. I now have one foot in
> analog telephony and the other on the banana peel of cell phonery. In the
> landline era, I used the examples of telephone expressions: Give me a ring
> some time. (Bell boxes for desk phones lasted into the mid-20th century.
> IMO bells ring; electronic simulations do not, except in an anachronym.)
> John hung up on me. (Hanged?) (But he did not take the separate earpiece
> and hang it up on the hook of a candlestick phone to break the connection;
> he might have put the handset back in its cradle.) I dialed the wrong
> number. (Cannot remember the last time I used a pulse dial.) Yellow Pages:
> Let your fingers do the walking. (My 87-year-old father has a Yellow Pages
> phonebook at home. It is made of paper and the pages are yellow. It is a
> quaint curiosity.)

The American Dialect Society -

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