Archive for the ‘Changing times’ Category

Texting Santa

February 21, 2011

From the NYT‘s “Metropolitan Diary” this morning, a sign of the times:

Dear Diary:
Time: Just before Christmas.
Scene: Doctor’s office.

Seated in the waiting room were a husband, wife and three children, ages about 7, 5 and 3. The boys were actually particularly quiet as they waited — but at one point, they were starting to get a bit rambunctious, so the father turned to them and said, “Quiet now or I’ll text Santa.”

Text Santa.

I surely could not have heard that correctly, since I was at the opposite end of the waiting room. But about 10 minutes later, as the boys were starting to act up, the father turned to them again and said, “Texting Santa,” and they immediately sat down quietly.

While my children said that’s not a particularly amazing thing to say, they did say that the fact that the dad had Santa’s cellphone number was pretty cool.

Ruth Sommer

Watching tv

June 18, 2010

Another cartoon, this time a Zits on tv and television (and tv and television):

It’s Father’s Day weekend in the U.S. — one of those commercial holidays, designed for gift-buying (typically, in very gender-stereotypical ways) and greeting-card-sending. This cartoon at least has a father in it, though it’s not specifically aimed at Dad.

For many, especially older, U.S. speakers, the words television and tv are denotative equivalents, differing only in their stylistic levels (neutral or formal vs. informal/colloquial). Both are ambiguous (or polysemous) as between, among other things, a mass-noun, abstract use referring to a communications service or medium and a count-noun, concrete use referring to a physical device; the uses of radio are parallel. So you can watch television on a television, watch tv on a tv, and listen to radio on a radio.

But denotative equivalents tend to give way to denotatively discriminated items. In the case of television and tv, the former has begun to be specialized in the communications-device sense, the latter in the communications-medium sense. So for kids these days, there’s no stylistic shift in watch tv on a television.

The shift was undoubtedly encouraged by the development of an alternative device for watching (and listening to) broadcast services: the computer. (Similarly for video and audio recordings, which are no longer tied to machines specifically designed to play them.)

So both cultural practices and linguistic usages are changing, and Jeremy and his friends are in both vanguards.

we need to V

May 21, 2010

Bizarro brings a formula of social life (especially the life of couples) into the modern age:

“We need to talk”, “We have to talk”, “We’ve got to talk” — all ways of starting a two-person discourse about some potentially troubling topic. It’s become a kind of formula for couples-talk, often initiating a decoupling conversation (taking things easy, seeing other people, breaking up). Here it’s brought up to date in the age of txtng and friending.

I saw th’ best minds of my generation

March 7, 2010

Zippy and the older Dingburgers do not rapidly embrace innovations in communications technology; see here and here, but note that Zippy isn’t drawn into adolescent rebellion in these matters:

And now comes the Allen Ginsberg of Dingburg (Allen Dingsberg?):


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