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