Today is the anniversary of the first long-distance television broadcast. In 1927, Bell Telephone Labs and AT&T provided this demonstration by broadcasting a speech from Washington, D.C. to New York City by then secretary of commerce Herbert Hoover.
The word television first appeared in 1907, according to Twentieth Century Words by John Ayto (Oxford University Press, 1999). Ayto notes that televista was the first named proposed.
Television is a hybrid word, a word derived from two separate languages. Tele is from Greek, meaning "far" and video is Latin, meaning "to see."
Other examples of hybrid words are:
monolingual: - mono from Greek -- meaning "one" and lingua from Latin -- meaning "tongue."
hyperactive: - huper from Greek -- meaning "over" and activus from Latin.
sociology: socius from Latin -- meaning "comrade" and logos from Greek -- meaning "word," "reason," "discourse."
The word broadcast, meaning to transmit by radio or television, was first recorded in 1921. The verb originally meant to scatter seed by hand, so the word we use today for the dissemination of information over the air waves was once used for dissemination of seed on the farm.
Today we take television for granted, but it has been in American homes for less than one-hundred years. In that short time, however, it has had made its mark on the English language. Like any widespread new technology, new words were needed to describe its impact on society. Try to imagine a world without the boob tube, channel surfing, music videos, or reality television.
One example of a new metaphor or idiom brought to us by television is jump the shark. It emerged in the 1990s, used by critics and fans to describe the moment that a television series had passed its peak. What does this definition have to do with a shark? Well, the reference is to an episode of the TV series Happy Days broadcasted on September 20, 1977 in which the popular character Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on a pair of water skis.
Today the phrase jump the shark has broadened to include any celebrity or musical group that has passed its peak. For more on this see jumptheshark.com
Below is a list of more words and phrases that came to us via the advent of TV:
soap opera (1939)
game show (1961)
coach potato (1979)
docusoap (1998) [precursor to reality television]
TV is an example of an initialization. Different from acronyms where the letters make a word (as in NASA), in initializations each letter is pronouned as an individual letter as in T-V.
Today's Challenge: Initial Shock
How many two-letter initializations can you name? List them alphabetically, and use a good dictionary if you need help. See example answers after the Quote of the Day.
Quote of the Day: Procrastination is opportunity's assassin. --Victor Kiam
AM, AP, BC, BO, BS, CB, CD, CS, DA, DJ, ER, ET, FM, GI, GM, ID, IQ, IT, IV, KO, KP, LA, LP, MA, MD, MO, OD, OT, PC, PG, PT, TV, VD, UK, UN, US, VP