But even if you never set foot in Silicon Valley the language spoken there — known as technobabble, geek speak or Valley lingo — is increasingly inescapable. And that, say language experts, makes it something many of us speak without realising it, and something the rest of us should learn, even if we’re not squarely associated with the tech world.
In much the same way that corporate management terms such as ‘circling back,’ ‘brainstorming’ or ‘blue-sky thinking’ once infiltrated everyday language, as the influence of technology on the economy continues to grow, there will likely be a welter of new terms to add to our vocabulary.
Kennedy was highly motivated to learn the lingo, and set her initial focus on technical terms such as ‘series A funding’ and ‘series B funding’ (first and second rounds of outside financing) and ‘product-market fit’ (extent to which a product matches market demand), rather than more colourful expressions such as ‘sunsetting’ (phasing out or discontinuing a product or service) or ‘eating your own dog food’. (No, that doesn’t mean actually eating dog food; it means that a company tests out its product or service in-house before bringing it to market.)
Startup and tech jargon are growing at an exponential rate. Freshly coined terms such as ‘clickbait’, or new definitions for existing words such as ‘unicorn’, are finding a place in everyday conversation. Technology is even one of the three richest sources of new words for Merriam-Webster, says Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for the long-established dictionary of American English.