|Saturday, August 25, 2001||
The productivity of language is, indeed, remarkable. The growth of the lexis is phenomenal by any standards. Scarcely does a neologism enter the vocabulary before many related words cluster around it, jostling for attention. At times, language and words seem to be like a large rabbit family, magically multiplying at the drop of a hat. Take, for instance, the word mouse — a small hand-held device which is dragged across a flat surface to move the cursor on the computer screen. It is only recently that a majority of the Indians have become acquainted with it. A measure of the popularity of this word is the number of compound words it has produced: mouse-button, any of the keys on a mouse that allow one to enter commands, and adjectives such as mouse-driven and mouse-controlled. It has also given birth to an ailment: mouse wrist. Mouse wrist is the pain in the wrist caused by excessive or improper use of a computer mouse, especially after a long mouse session.
In fact, computers
are responsible for many ailments, giving lots of neologisms to the
language. Playing too many games on the computer can lead to nintendo
thumb, which is a repetitive stress injury from the over-use of the
thumb. A related illness is nintendo epilepsy, which gets triggered
off by the neon lights of computer games. Tetwrist is another such
injury brought on by playing computer games like Tetris. Text message
injury is a repeated stress injury due to excessive use of the thumb
to type out text messages on the keyboard or cell phone.
Google, a popular search engine, helps one seek information on the Internet. Where did the word google come from? The young nephew of mathematician Edward Kasner was asked what he would call a huge number consisting of the number one followed by one hundred zeros. He suggested a word that in a way resembles the number, since it contains several zeros. The word was google.
Sometime in the future, researchers are
likely take a look at all cyber-words that took birth in this decade and
may write a thesis on the society of the time. Language is the means of
expression so it is quite natural that it will reflect human experience
and thought, loud and clear. Looking at the Hindi of the Bhakti period,
there is an absence of English inputs. Whereas there are enough words
from Arabic, Persian and Turkish to show the influence of Muslim thought
and culture during that period.