Tricky eVocabulary

IMG_7547.JPGWhile correcting a student’s text yesterday, my attention was drawn to how vocabulary has developed around computers and the Internet. Words like cookies and sleep have new meanings. Also, today we need to be clear about our request for an address; we may need a street address, an email address, or a web address, depending on the situation. Some words are trickier than others in terms of use, so perhaps with greater sensitivity to points of confusion, we can help ELLs use eVocabulary more accurately.

1. Google. A student wrote a sentence about Googling on a subject. I explained that Google can indeed be a verb, but it’s always transitive. (See dictionary entry.) Commonly we advise others by saying, “Google it.” However, we should be careful to remember that Googling or even googling a topic refers to using the Google search engine. It’s not as generic as, say, band-aid. If you search on Yahoo, then that’s not the act of Googling.

2. Email is another word that enjoys some versatility. In one YT video, I explain how email can be both a noun and a verb. We can even use it as a modifier, as in an email account. In my early years of emailing, I hyphenated the word. Today it seems preference is given to the non-hyphenated word. Both are still recognized in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.

3. Internet or internet? Although I agree it’s easier to type email without the hyphen, I still usually take the time to hit the shift key to capitalize the “i” in Internet. Both the upper- and lowercase forms are listed in the LDCE, so it’s a matter of personal preference. And how about just “the net”?  We need to remind students that context must make the reference clear, and personally I feel it’s an informal word choice. The net must include the definite article, and only the full form can be used in compound nouns or as a noun modifier: an Internet connection, your Internet provider, Internet service, and Internet speed test.

4. The Internet or the Web? In casual conversation, most listeners won’t blink an eye when the words are used interchangeably. However, there is a difference and it might be an interesting challenge for students to explain it. If necessary, encourage them to Google it! The Computer History Museum offers a short explanation here. Variations with the word web can worry those who like a definitive rule, but others may be relieved to know that variations allow room for guessing: webpage, web page, or Web page? You’ll see all these forms online.

5. URL, link, or address? There’s some overlap with these words as well. A URL is basically a web address. However, a link is more than just letters, numbers, and symbols. It’s actually a hyperlink that we click on to get to a website or webpage. We can encourage students to use these word accurately.

Have you come across any other eVocabulary that’s worth covering in the classroom?


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