Analog words in the digital age

Here’s a random linguistic observation… Earlier this week, I was translating away on some public health materials, and came to the expression “composer notre numéro sans frais.” Knee-jerk translation: call our toll-free number (to get information about this public health initiative). And then it occurred to me, is it still correct to call something a “toll-free number,” now that toll calls are not much of a thing anymore, having been replaced by unlimited minutes.

I bumped this to Twitter, and various translators weighed in with other examples of analog terms that we still use in the digital age. Robert Sette pointed out that musicians still call new albums “records,” although vinyl is all but obsolete; that made me realize that radio hosts still say “on tape,” although now it’s “on a digital recorder.” Karen Tkaczyk noted that we still “dial” the phone (using digital buttons?); Lloyd Bingham concurred that although he’s never actually dialed a phone, he still says “dial.” A friend of mine pointed to the expression, “hang up on,” although it’s decidedly less satisfying to “hang up” on someone by emphatically pressing the touch-screen than by slamming the phone back onto the hanging cradle.

There’s no deep takeaway here, just something interesting about linguistic evolution (or lack thereof). Readers, any other thoughts on this, or any other analog expressions that we cling to in the digital age?

23 Responses to “Analog words in the digital age”
  1. Karen Tkaczyk September 22, 2016
    • Corinne McKay September 22, 2016
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  2. Jennifer Baldwin September 22, 2016
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