In language, phrases and various semantic expressions referring to technologies often make their way into the language, even if that technology is mostly obsolete.

Examples of this could include "Caught on tape," even though tape recorders haven't been used since the late 1990s. Many say, "broken record," even though record players have been obsolete since the 1980s. Many people will also say, "hang up the phone," despite most people using smartphones, which don't use receiver cradles.

Many other examples include: "Dial a number", stocks (as in the stock market) refer to literal pieces of wood with makes engraved in them, almost all typographic terms refer to typewriters, inbox refers to the fact that mail used to be received in physical boxes etc., etc., etc.,

My main question in all of this is whether or not these common semantic phrases have a term in the field of linguistics.

  • 6
    Nitpick: most typographical terms refer to printing presses, not typewriters. Upper- and lowercase, for example, refer to the actual upper and lower wooden cases in which the printers would keep individual letter clichés to use when typesetting. Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 1:20
  • Phone booth, phone dial, calculator pad, file corruption, ... The list goes on.
    – jlawler
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 15:29
  • 2
    It seems to me that they are now all dead metaphors, even if they were originally literal.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 17:53
  • I can only think of the term 'skeuomorphs,' used in design.
    – Vagabonk
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 4:31
  • anachronism "... not in its correct historical or chronological time, ... that belongs to an earlier time" (dictionary.com) is a more general term that applies to "hang up the phone" (or HUP in network protocols), though the examples differ so much you want to take care not to confuse categories. For example stock probably has multiple layers of metaphor and metonymy in parallel, across dialects and language barriers. So it's an anachronism like ana-chronism itself if it is properly timeless like a classic old timer car and not parachronological like a wrist watch in the movie Spartacus
    – vectory
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 12:50


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