Language Experts: Techies Have Difficulty Defining Terms Like ‘iPod’, ‘Flash’, ‘Cookie’

December 8, 2007 at 6:40 pm Leave a comment

A top ten of most confusing yet commonly used tech words includes iPOD, Flash, Cookie, Nano and Kernel. Global Language Monitor, a consultancy, published its 2007 ranking, following up on similar research in 2005.

Other words in the top ten are Megahertz, Cell (cell as in cell phone), Plasma, De-duplication, and Blu-Ray. Global Language Monitor released its study recently, on the 13th anniversary of the ‘cookie’. Tech adepts will know that the cookie is the invention that made the World Wide Web practical for widespread surfing, communication, and e-commerce.

Paul JJ Payack, GLM’s president points out why the terms are relatively obscure in terms of their semantics; Educational metrics such as the Flesch Test would place a typical paragraph using these words at the Third-grade reading-level, he says.

“At the same time most college graduates, even from engineering schools such as MIT, Stanford, and CalTech would be challenged to precisely define all ten”, Payack says.

GLM has sophisticated tools to measure language issues. This ranking was created using a predictive quantities indicator (PQI). This is an algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet.

GLM tracks words in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.

Definitions of the Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited High Tech Words of 2007 with Commentary follow:

1. iPOD: We all know the brand, but what exactly is a ‘pod’? A gathering of marine mammals? The encasement for peas? The evacuation module from 2001: A Space Odyssey?

2. Flash: As in Flash Memory. Given it is easier to say than “ I brought the report on my EEPROM chip with a thin oxide layer separating a floating gate and control gate utilizing Fowler-Nordheim electron tunneling”.

3. Nano: Widely used to describe any small as in nanotechnology. Like the word ‘mini’ which originally referred to the red hues in Italian miniature paintings, the word nano- is ultimately derived from the ancient Greek word for dwarf.

4. Cookie: Without cookies with their ‘persistent state’ management mechanism the web as we know it, would cease to exist.

5. Kernel: The core layer of a computer operating system serving as a connection to the underlying hardware. Ultimately derives from the Old English cyrnel, for corn.

6. Megahertz (MHz): Named after German physicist Heinrich Hertz, signifying a million cycles per second in computer processor (and not clock) speed. Next up: GigaHertz (GHz) and TeraHertz (THz), one billion and one trillion cycles.

7. Cell (as in Cell Phone): Operating on the principle of cells, where communicate through low-power transceiver to cellular ‘towers’ up to 6 miles away (which is why you can connect to ground stations from airplanes at 35,000 feet). The phone connects to the strongest signal which are then passed from tower to tower.

8. Plasma (as in Plasma Television): A top word in the last survey still confusing large-screen TV buyers.

9. De-duplication: One of the newer buzzwords meaning removing duplicated data from a storage device, as in ‘we’re in the process of de-duping the silo’. Ouch!

10. Blu-Ray (vs. HD DVD): New technology for high capacity DVDs reminiscent of the VHS/Beta wars of the 1980s.
Most Confusing Acronym: SOA (Service-oriented Architecture); IBM had to write a book to explain it!?

Other terms being tracked included terabyte, memory, core, and head crash.

Entry filed under: Green News.

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