I was recently reading an article* about how technology has been changing our lives and how older products (and ways of doing things) are being replaced by newer products (and ways of doing things). This brought up some very interesting English vocabulary that I would like to share in this blog. Below I will introduce to you eight “old” vocabulary words. First I will define these items or concepts. Then I will introduce the modern version of these vocabulary words. Lastly I will tell you about the change over from the old to the new word. Just because I am calling this “old vocabulary” doesn’t mean that this vocabulary is no longer useful. These old vocabulary terms are still good to know although they are words that are used less often that their newer counterparts. Also, the transition from these old vocabulary words to the newer ones certainly says a great deal about the culture of modern day America, which has become very technologically advanced and dependent. You will see that most of the old vocabulary words have been replaced by new electronic items. Below, the “old” vocabulary words are in bold and the “new” vocabulary words are in italicize. Here we go…
answering machine – a tape recorder or digital recorder in the home that answers telephone calls with a recorded message and leaves room for the caller to record a message
voice mail – a computerized system for answering the telephone (cell phone) calls in which messages can be recorded, stored, and replayed
Many Americans no longer have home phones and simply use cell phones to make all of their phone calls. This is why answering machines are no longer common.
encyclopedia – a book or set of books that give information on many different subjects; these books are usually arranged alphabetically
Wikipedia – a free, web-based, electronic encyclopedia that gives information on many subjects
In the past many American families owned a set of encyclopedias in their home. These books were sold in stores, on TV, and by door-to-door sales. Now Wikipedia offers a free online version of this type of informational book.
film – a thin flexible plastic strip of material used in cameras to capture pictures
digital memory card – a small flat flash drive used to store digital cameras images
Today in the United States it is often hard to find stores that sells film for cameras, most cameras are digital and therefore use memory cards.
incandescent light bulb – a glass light bulb with a filament** inside that heats up to produce light
CFL = Compact Fluorescent Light bulb – a fluorescent light bulb that uses only a little energy to produce a bright light
The United States government is trying to phase out (to slow or stop) the production of incandescent light bulbs in America. CFL are now easy and cheap to find in most stores and incandescent light bulbs are difficult to find.
road maps – folding, paper maps designed for motorists*** to use that show the roads of a certain area
GPS = Global Positioning System – a satellite navigational system that gives directions on a small computer screen or by voice command
GPS is so common today it is found in cell phones, installed in new cars, and potable devices that can be put into any automobile. Many people no longer use road maps when they are driving to new places.
rolodex – a desktop card index that is used to record and store names, addresses, and telephone numbers
electronic address book – an electronic system found on a phone or computer that is used for storing and sorting names, addresses, and telephone numbers
Rolodexes used to be seen on every desk in almost every office in the United States. Now people store contact information for friends, business partners, and others electronically.
snail mail – this is a slang word for the postal system, it refers to sending mail in envelops with stamps
e-mail = Electronic Mail – electronic messages sent from computers and phones in real time****
Although snail mail is not gone or likely to disappear all together it is used much less today than it was 10, 20, or 50 years ago. In fact the United States Postal Service is having trouble financially because so few people use snail mail.
subway token – a small metal token, like a coin, that is used to enter to a subway system
subway pass (also: metro pass, metro card, subway card) – a paper or plastic card that is inserted or swiped in a machine in order to enter a subway system
Most subway systems in the United States first operated using tokens for payment; today they almost all have one-time or multiple use cards that are bought from machines prior to entering the subway system.
*article = a short piece of writing about a single topic
**filament = a threadlike wire or thread with a high melting point that is part of an electric bulb
***motorist = the driver of a car, truck, or van
**** real time = the actual time in which an event occurs, the time in which data is input and processed within milliseconds