Is this just me getting old, or are the internet and social media creating new words and phrases at an incredible rate? I frequent an on-line forum sometimes and all the talk is about the “woke generation” and “cancel culture”, terms which would have meant nothing to me one or two years ago.

I nearly called this post “Newspeak”, referring to a newly developing language – but of course that’s been famously used in the novel 1984. Newspeak was an imposed reduction in vocabulary designed to prevent people from being able to verbalise any thoughts deemed unacceptable by the authoritarian state.

What we have today is the opposite. Social changes driven by the overconnected masses are leading to the development of concepts which simply did not exist in the prior history of our language. New words are needed.

So, on the web, “influencers” are “gate-keeping” in case we are being “transphobic” or a “TERF” and “misgendering” people. In the US, the “MAGAs” and are still listening to the “fake news” delivered by the deposed “POTUS”. Globally, “anti-vaxxers” and those “covidiots” who refuse to practice “social distancing” are imperilling our goal of “herd immunity”. And, as it turns out, I’m “on the spectrum” or an “autie”, while most of you are “neurotypical”. It’s hard to keep up… but isn’t this linguistic-conceptual expansion actually quite wonderful?

I’ll tell you what brought this to mind. (Do I need a “trigger warning” on this part? I’m going to mention sexual assault, but only in an academic, linguistic sense).

I was just noticing that the news today was filled with debate over sexual assault allegations in the government. This is another of those things that society (and especially the “#metoo movement”) is becoming more open about discussing.

And it occurred to me that we don’t have an appropriate word to describe the women involved. We used to call them “victims”, but that fell out of favour for obvious reasons (though we still refer to “victim blaming”?) Now we have “assault survivors”. But does that not seem wrong, or at least illogical, if used to describe someone who escaped an experience that was traumatic, but unlikely to be fatal?

So I was left scratching my head, searching for the right word. Perhaps “assault sufferers” would be a better term? It would at least imply a recognition that a level of suffering may continue past the event itself. Yet it seems clunky.

But then I realised my linguistic failure didn’t matter. There are thousands (maybe even millions?) of people out there watching the same kinds of news and having the same kinds of thoughts. The odds are, within a year, Inter-speak will have provided a new word that fits.

Modern interwebbed society, eh? Equal parts batshit crazy and kind of wonderful.

One thought on “Inter-speak”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: