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Ok Computer

6 years ago by

Ok Computer

Although originally English, I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot throughout my life. As a result, I’ve developed a strong interest in languages. Not just the kind of foreign languages that you learn in school, but also the peculiarities of language that have evolved between different cultures.

When I first came to New York a year ago, I encountered a new type of language, one which both fascinated and baffled me. I call it “computer speak”, but funnily enough, it has nothing to do with text speak or emailing. Rather I found that in New York, people often talk as if we were all computers.

If I wanted to meet up with someone, I would suggest we “hang out” or perhaps “grab a coffee”. In New York, you don’t “hang out”, rather you “link” or “connect”. If you’re not sure if you can make it, you might “check in” and once there, you don’t offload, you “download”. Socializing has become “networking” and holidays are for “recharging” and “rebooting”, a chance to “unplug” and “decompress”.

Obviously not all of these expressions are exclusive to New York, but I notice them more frequently here than anywhere else. I admire New Yorkers so much for their efficiency and drive, but sometimes I worry that it’s all a little mechanized. Perhaps it’s the romantic European in me, but it makes me sad to think of us all as robots, firing off electronic signals in place of real communication. What do you think? Is this something you’ve noticed in other cities around the world? Am I just old fashioned and ready for an update?

Words by Georgia Graham


Add yours
  • This made me laugh (as a Brit I can totally relate), so so true :)

    Mel x


  • This is hilarious. Years ago, one of the trendy words was “office,” used as a verb: “We office together.” Lately, I have been “onboarded” a couple of times. The first time, I thought it was just that company’s lingo. But then another company wanted to onboard me. It made me think of waterboarding, and not to make light of that it was kind of torture.
    Always something. Language is an amazing, puzzling thing.

  • Interesting! I also love languages and have a multicultural background. I was born and raised in Madagascar and now I live in Montreal, Canada. I had the chance to live in London, UK, for a year and absolutely loved it. It is my favorite city in the world (and I love the British accent, of course). My mother tongues are Malagasy and French but I also speak English and Spanish (learnt at school and I lived a few months in Barcelona, Mexico and Argentina).
    I have come to realize that speaking multiple languages really add a certain “dimension” to one’s understanding and appreciation of life, so to speak.
    In Madagascar, we have a saying: “mora mora”, which means “slowly”. It is our way of life. We like to do things at our own pace, which is usually slow (haha). No need to rush things; I think Madagascar is at the total opposite of New York (and I love both places). It’s all about balance, maybe New Yorkers need to spend a few weeks in Madagascar and vice-versa or they could just meet in London ;).
    In French, we say : “le bonheur, c’est le chemin” (the happiness is the journey).
    For my part, I am looking for deep(er) – human – connections, technology has its limits… And now, I am off! ;)

  • Danielle Korneliussen August, 24 2016, 12:24 / Reply

    I sure do notice this new trend in social comminuication, Georgia. I am from Michigan but have lived in Norway for 19 years. When I return to Michigan each summer, one of the first things that I notice is how the language that people use has evolved. Not only that, but even the accent! There suddenly seems to be an apostrophe in places where they don’t belong: a word that was once pronounced Kitten is now Ki’in. I mean… What??? Ann Arbor is a university town and that’s where change and evolution take place at a high speed, but when the world around you starts to sound like “The Nikki Minaj school of talking” then I become a tad skeptical.

  • I’m from Europe too and tend to mix British and American English but this is ridiculous :)) I might use terms like “recharge” and “networking” but I’d never think to “download” or tell someone to “link”. It’s the whole Social Media thing, in my mind. We’ve started incorporating abbreviations from there like BRB or BFF and more and now, we’re blurring the line between virtual and real life. No, you’re not old fashioned at all. There are so many beautiful words and synonyms of synonyms in a language, that it’s sad to think that we’re replacing them with these poor substitutes. I’m an advocate of creativity, instead of speed, in any part of my life, including vocabulary,


  • Queen of Stone Age August, 24 2016, 7:39 / Reply

    New York is singularly different even among American cities. It started as a mercantile center among many on the coast and then became a national, and later international, financial center and it has always been about the money, which is a good thing in my opinion. It is not a city on the hill, it is a city where things happen, where smart, industrious and innovative people can make a good living and create jobs. New Yorkers, those who are native and those who come here from elsewhere and stay, are faster, more competitive, more to the point all the time, more focused on the end game (a non-computer metaphor) than people who live elsewhere. New Yorkers are generally not romantic (those who are like preserving buildings as landmarks), not about ideas (unless they have commercial value). They often seem superficial and they are fast, fast, fast. When you get tired of New York and New Yorkers and you go home or elsewhere, where people are more sentimental, more focused on ideas and walk so much more slowly, eventually you miss it and them and come back to the craziness.

  • oh, gross! i’m a new yorker and i would only use this type of language at work. if one of my friends asked to “link up” with me, i would laugh in their face!

  • C’est clair! je suis du même avis..
    comme toi je suis polyglotte et je m’intéresse aux différentes évolutions liées aux langues…
    et bien c’est un langage “codé” qui se répand très vite..
    typiquement les francophones mélangent le langage “ordinateur” à l’anglais… et ça devient d’un moche.
    genre pas 1 phrase totalement correcte ne peut être alignée lors d’un lunch
    ça m’exaspère ;-)

  • Clémence August, 24 2016, 5:05 / Reply

    C’est fou, on dirait tellement Catherine Deneuve sur cette photo !

  • J’adore aussi l’histoire des langues et leur évolution, l’étymologie etc, ça explique tellement sur les personnes qui les parlent ! Merci de nous partager ça, je comprends parfaitement ce que tu dis, j’adorerais que tu continues régulièrement à partager tes impressions linguistiques !
    As-tu remarqué aussi ces Américains qui parlent en vocal fry ? Cf cet article si tu peux le comprendre ou le mettre à traduire dans Google : https://www.letemps.ch/societe/2015/07/30/vocal-fry-mystere-filles-gresillent
    A la fois ça m’impressionne et ce ton me gêne l’oreille, on comprend moins, et les parlers coincés en fond de gorge étouffent les mots. J’espère que c’est une mode et qu’elle passera. On n’entend pas du tout ce type de parler dans les films américains des années 40 ou 50, où je trouve la langue beaucoup plus facile à comprendre.

  • Clever post. I had never really paid attention until you mentioned the above. Language is so fascinating and ever evolving. I think it’s about 1000 new words enter the Oxford English Dictionary a year. I still can’t get over “bootylicious” being in there.

  • Great, smart and well written post!

  • Where is the jacket in the photo from!? Love the cool brown color.

  • Balanciaga leather jacket ;)

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