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Do you facebook or skype? What search engine do you use to google something? When you clean your house do you hoover? Many verbs and nouns in English have come from commercial products. Learn more about some of them in this session.

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New language of technology

What or who is a computer?

If you were born at the end of the 20th Century you probably take personal computers for granted. Those who are older might remember the 1980s and 1990s as a time when computers became more affordable and it was possible to have one in the home. Now the smart phones we carry around in our pockets have the same amount of computing power that not so long ago would have filled a room.

The definition of computer used to refer to a job that a person did. A computer was someone who did calculations. Now the definition refers to the machine.

It's an example of how technology is changing language as well as our lives. And it's changing fast. New words for new ideas and software are coming and going from the language.

When the internet was in its infancy it was frequently referred to as the information superhighway. That's not a phrase you hear much these days.

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Social media

No one is quite sure who coined the term social media back in the 1990s but it was only in the early noughties that it took on the importance it has today.

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have their own vocabulary and grammar.

For example, you write a post on Facebook but on Twitter it's a tweet. To Facebook is a verb:

  • "I'm going to facebook that!"

But to Twitter doesn't work as a verb. You use to tweet.

Facebook and Twitter are two of the biggest social networks in the world, but their names and their grammatical variants are only associated with their products. However, there is one internet presence that has become as successful as Hoover was in dominating the language used to describe what it does. 

Google dominates the language of searching on the internet. There are other search engines but the act of searching is now often referred to as googling, whichever tool is being used.

To google is a regular verb and it's transitive. You google something or someone.

  • If you don't know the answer, google it.
  • googled my new boss and found out where he used to work.
  • It's scary what you can find if you google yourself.

In certain uses it can be intransitive.

  • I hate googling. I prefer looking things up in real books.

It can be made into an adjective:

  • Look it up, I'm sure it's googleable.
  • A recent law means some web pages have to be made ungoogleable.

To do

Can you use the vocabulary on this page correctly? Find out by trying the quiz.

Vocabulary quiz

5 Questions

In each question choose the best option to complete the sentence.

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End of session

That's the end of this vocabulary session. If you liked it, why not facebook it or tweet about it?

Vocabulário desta lição

  • to take something for granted 
    to expect that something will always be there and not think it's unusual or special to have it.

    We take our gadgets for granted and would be lost without them.

    in something's infancy
    in the very early stages of something's development and use 

    Driverless cars are in their infancy but their use will soon grow.

    to coin a term/expression/phrase 
    to be the first person to say a word or phrase that then becomes more widely used 

    William Shakespeare coined many phrases that are now common in English.

    social media 
    internet sites that allow people to share comments, photos, videos etc with friends and others 

    I spend too much time on social media every day.

    the noughties 
    the first decade of the 21st Century (2000 - 2009) 

    I became a teenager in the noughties and I don't really remember a time without the internet.

    a search engine 
    a software tool for looking for information on the internet 

    One of the best things to learn is how to use a search engine properly.