• Harriet Millard


Language changes over generations, and as new words are added to dictionaries, others are either forgotten or meanings adapted. The pandemic generated a new vocabulary, bringing little-used words to the forefront - PPE, furlough, lockdown, vaxxed, bubble.

Another trend finding it's way into today's lexicon is perhaps a byproduct of texting: time-saving acronyms such as WFH (work from home), OOO (out of office), DM (direct message), IMO (in my opinion),TL;DR (too long; didn't read), ICYMI (In case you missed it) - the list goes on.

But as technology progresses with the creation of day to day items that are now 'smart' - smart tv, smart fridge, smart watch, smart phone, are they only 'smart' to us, and by us, I mean Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y?

To the Next Gen (Gen Z and Gen Alpha) it will just be the norm. Born entirely in the 21st Century, and growing up with Alexa and Siri as housemates, Gen Alpha will simply expect the 'smartness' to be commonplace.

But the optics have already started to change. How many of us Boomers, Gen X and Gen Ys (for whom in the spirit of this blog post, I now refer to as 'BXY') still call our phones 'smart phones'?

In the context of media and marketing - I challenge you to name a current, scaleable marketing campaign that exists purely offline, or a news story that is only in print. If 'digital' and 'social' are intrinsic to how we consume, will future generations stop referring to them as 'digital' and 'social'?

Similarly, when 'motorcars' were invented, the 'motor' was the progressive element. Now it's the norm for all cars to have motors, so we don't need to describe them as 'motorcars'.

Why is any of this interesting? While the evolution of language is one part of society, we are looking at it from unique the viewpoint of our own position in the generational cycle - from BXY seeing how Gen Z and Gen Alpha will speak about things. But what about beyond that? I'm intrigued about how Gen Z & Gen Alpha will describe things that Gen Beta (born 2025-2039) will challenge as technology continues to progress.

TL;DR? Language adapts to generational norms