Ticking, dialing, airing, tuning

Ticking, dialing, airing, tuning

It’s funny how some idioms outlast their original meanings.

I’ve been noticing this one recently…

“Clock’s ticking.”

I can completely see a twelve-year old saying to an adult, “I hear people say that, and I know it means we don’t have much time…but what does it really mean?”

After all, clocks don’t tick any more.  It would probably be even more confusing if you pointed to your wrist while saying it.  Most kids don’t have wristwatches…if they want to know what time it is, they look at a cellphone.  That’s a little hard to mime, though, since we look at cellphones for so many reasons.

We also still say we “dial a number”…most kids haven’t used (or probably even seen) a dial telephone.

In fact, my favorite obsolete technology story (and you know you’re a geek when you have a favorite obsolete technology story) was with my own kid.  When my kid was, oh, seven or so, we found a dial telephone.  It wasn’t plugged into anything, of course.  My kid was pretending to dial a telephone number, and there was a finger slip.  My kid looked at me and said, “How do I delete that?”  I had to think for a few seconds before saying, “We couldn’t delete it, we’d have to start all over.” “Start all over?”  This was followed by walking away…that was like Flintstones level technology, and not worth the effort.

We also still talk about a TV program “airing” and “airdates”.  Well, some shows do…network shows.  Oh, and I suppose ones that come down by satellite count.  But i think we still say this because of shows broadcast by big antennas, rather than by cable (internet or otherwise).  You know, I’m backing off this one…enough of them go to cellphones to count.  🙂

Another one is “tuning” in a show.  We used to actually have to turn a dial to tune in a show (radio, then TV).  I remember turning a radio dial, just tweaking it until I got it as well as I could.  No, not on a big console set, but definitely on a transistor radio.

I know we still say things that are based on things that were hundreds of years old, but these caught my eye…er, ear. 

Any other ones you’ve noticed?  Feel free to let me know…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle


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