The words and phrases I predict will soon become obsolete
In the future – like within your own lifetime future – the way we speak could change quite significantly.
With ever-more rapid social and technological change, words and phrases that were commonplace in living memory could become endangered. The faster we move, the sooner our vocabulary will tailor itself to the new world around us.
I considered this recently when, in my work as a journalist, I interviewed a 12-year-old called Max. There was something about Max that I regarded as incredible, but his classmates thought unremarkable: he was out at school.
Now, to a gay man of my generation, twelve is remarkably young age to be out, but Max was never really in, hence the glorious indifference to him being openly gay at school.
It made me realise that, to the next generation, staying in the closet may seem increasingly odd, so being ‘secretly gay’ will make its antonym, ‘openly gay’ superfluous. We’ll just have ‘gay’.
To the post-marriage equality English-speaking world, the ‘openly’ prefix will look as if it describes a brazen confession of something audacious or guilty, rather than someone who is simply out.
Terms like this one will be missed by few. But other terms which quickly lose relevance will inevitably be looked upon by some with a sense of nostalgia.
For social conservatives, they’ll remind them of a time when things were less complex: boys were boys, girls were girls, and bigots were unchallenged.
For technophobes bewildered by the pace, a simpler era will also be evoked by the diction of yore. Instead of pensioners reminiscing about the language used “in my day”, it’ll be thirty-somethings, hankering back to an alien lexicon few in the next generation will understand or care about.
With that in mind, here’s my – completely subjective – predictions of the words and phrases that’ll die out within my own lifetime – and probably yours, too.
The next industrial revolution
The press (as a collective noun for journalists) – this’ll seem a peculiar way to describe the media, which will all be broadcast or online, none of it having gone near a printing press
Newspaper – the ‘paper’ part will become completely redundant. I predict we’ll see the loss of the Monday to Friday newspapers for many big mastheads within the next decade. Weekend editions will remain – but not for long.
Taxi driver / cabbie – the term will become corporatized: replace ‘taxi’ with the brand of service (Uber, Lyft, etc.)
Checkout girl – never terribly PC, making the assumption that they were all women (and using the diminutive colloquialism), but a common part of everyday life and diction that’ll vanish
Blackboard – teachers who remember using these awful things will seem ancient and weird
Internet Cafe – the concept will seem bizarre
Mobile internet – we’ll just have ‘internet’
Buffering – a verb most will be happy to see the back of
Hang up / dial phone – more redundant verbs
Tune in – to what?
TV guide – will be an instruction manual when you first buy one
Cash point / ATM / chequebook – going, going, gone
Phone booth / answering machine – how quaint!
Stationery / handwriting – a lost art, many will lament
De-friend – once the Facebook way of giving someone a strong hint, people will barely notice
Diva – a woman who is clear about what she wants and demands to be treated on equal terms will no longer be described as a ‘diva’ – she’ll be described, simply, as a ‘woman’