Today a fellow student ended their Skype conversation with their boyfriend by saying, “Alright, I’m gonna hang up now.” I was struck by the phrase, which is already an anachronism in regards to most modes of digital communication. We’ve moved beyond hanging phones up when we’re done with them. At the time I joked that in a thousand years, when tour guides talk about phones they’ll say “And this is where the term “hang up” comes from. You see they communicated through these sort of banana shaped devices back then and when you were done with the conversation you would actually hang the phone on a hook or box which would cut off the connection with the other end of the line.” It’s startling to think that that may someday actually be the case.
In the United States it’s hard to remember that the world is as old as it is. That language is as old as it is. We’re a country that has existed for a shorter period of time than many buildings in England have. In a place like that you forget that the words you use so casually come from people who needed them to describe their lives in a time long since past. The etymological origins of words seem clear retroactively, but so do all things. It’s much harder to hear the words we use now and see how they’ll still be used in the future despite their original meaning having fallen by the wayside. I sincerely believe today was the first time I ever heard a phrase and thought: “Those words are bound to a time and thing that will soon be lost.”