Saturday, August 11, 2001

In the same vein

by Deepti

IN the past, whenever new concepts emerged, words were conveniently borrowed from other languages. During the Renaissance especially, with new fields of knowledge opening up, many new words came from other languages. Recently, with the influx of the computer and the Internet, English users are coining more new words to cope with the new concepts. This could also be a comment upon how we, as a society of language-users, view language. Earlier, the perspective of both the linguist and the language-user was prescriptive and rule-based, they worried about what was right and what was wrong. Today, the perspective is more descriptive, they get satisfaction by the way the language shapes up rather than remaining worried about the shape being right or wrong. An environment of this kind gives users the confidence to coin words or create neologisms. Neologisms are, at the risk of repetition, new words and the study of such coinages is called neologiology; which itself is a neologism.

The cyber family
July 21, 2001
Italian friends
July 7, 2001
Random words
June 23, 2001
Mortal practices, immortal words
June 9, 2001
Passage of words
May 26, 2001
Traces of the past
May 12, 2001
April 28, 2001
Lost origins
April 14, 2001
Words and society
March 31, 2001
Origin of expressions
March 17, 2001
Varied origins
March 3, 2001
Words around the house
February 17, 2001

A huge number of neologisms have entered the language from the cyber world. ‘See you on the Net’ is a common promise these days. Net is the short form for the Internet (a computer-based worldwide information network); formed through clipping, i.e., cutting off part of a word to let the remaining stand for the whole. In the full form Internet is used quite infrequently, so perhaps Net can be termed a neneologism, a neologism created to replace an existing one. The word Internet has two new partners now thanks to the widespread use of the Net, Intranet and Extranet. As the word denotes, Intranet is a computer network connected within a single widespread organisation, sites closed to the Internet in general but with access granted to the members of the organisation. Extranet is also a closed set of sites in a network but with the difference that access is granted to those who need selective information, for instance customers or suppliers.

And who is the person who is often on the Net, practically living on it? A netizen, obviously a blend of citizen and Internet. For the netizen, netiquette is a must. Netiquette, a blend of net and etiquette, is a set of empirically devised rules for getting along harmoniously in the electronic communication environment. Just as a citizen has to cope with jet lag, a netizen copes with net lag. This is slang for slow Internet service, a temporary loss of contact between the Internet user and the server, caused by network delays.


Hindi has taken the word computer from English and written it in its own script. This is the only change made in the word. In the case of other words taken from English, often there is a slight change in meaning. The word team, for example. In English, team could mean any group working together and not necessarily a group of players. For Hindi, a team is only a group of players. Maybe with the current environment of innovation, Hindi too will adopt more meanings of team. Similarly, for English, a school is any centre of learning. But, for Hindi, a school is a place where children study.

This feature was published on August 4, 2001