Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Prefix madness

There's a popular Dilbert strip in which Dogbert attempts to name a high-tech company by using a computer to choose random words from astronomy and electronics, with the hilarious result "Uranus Hertz."

If only everyone were so creative. As technology has become an ever larger part of people's lives, the temptation to create new words and names by adding technical-sounding prefixes has gotten almost out of control. In early days there was a lot of cyber- business going on---cyberspace, cyberculture, and of course cybersex. The ubiquity of email (hardly anyone spells it "e-mail" anymore) and the explosion of dot-com companies in the 90s, all of which needed trendy-sounding names, led to e- everything: eBay, eHarmony, e-cards. My husband even once tried to claim "e-quail" as a word in Scrabble (as well as "re-exercise"; needless to say, we now resolve all disputes with the official Scrabble dictionary!).

A more recent trend I've noticed---and apparently I'm not alone---is the nano- one, no doubt fueled by the growing interest in nanotechnology. The biggest indication? Apple Computers, long enamored with the i- convention (iMac, iTunes, iPod), has now introduced the iPod Nano. And so it continues...

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