5-speed listening (Level 5)

The Internet gives new meanings to common words






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The speed at which the Internet has transformed our lives has had an impact on the words we use. It is 20 years since the website Dictionary.com was created. It has looked back at the past two decades to see how the Internet has created additional definitions to many common words. Dictionary.com boss Liz McMillan said the rise of technology has shaped our word use over time". She said the website, "looked back at 20 words that have expanded in meaning over the last 20 years." The website has been recording new meanings for words since, "the dawn of the Internet era".

One of the most recognisable changes is to the word "friend". For centuries, this word has been a noun. The rise of Facebook means it is now also a verb, as in, "Can you friend me?" Another form of this word is "befriend," which means to become friends with someone (usually in the real and not cyber world). The word "tablet" once referred to a flat piece of stone, clay, or wood that is used to write on. Now it is a touchscreen device with Internet. Other words that have new definitions include "cloud," "wireless," and "viral". Many more new meanings will come in the next two decades.

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