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More Language That Hurts?

December 3, 2013

Um, what?

Dan Gailey, a 30-year-old tech entrepreneur who was recently working at Four Barrel, said he didn’t identify as a “techie” – and thinks it’s actually a pretty rude term.

“If you use the word ‘techie,’ we know you’re not in tech,” said the Mission District resident. “A lot of negative terms like that – yuppie, hipster – are outsider terms. We don’t call each other techies – at all, ever.”

The preferred terms, he said, are “hackers,” “makers” or “coders.”

I get called six rude things before 8AM most days, and “techie” would be FAR down the list.  What is it about people who don’t like to be labeled with a generic when something more high-falutin would do?

San Francisco State linguistics lecturer Jenny Lederer said the word “techie” may have started to pick up a set of inferences, which can make a benign, neutral word sound negative – so “techie,” like how it’s used in the song, may now conjure up ideas of gentrification and entitlement more than, for example, the terms “software engineer” or “tech worker” do.

Adding further insult, Lederer said: “The ‘ie’ suffix can sound belittling, like ‘groupie’ or ‘yuppie.’ The ‘er’ suffix in English is agentive, as in ‘hacker,’ thus sounds stronger.”

What.  Ever.

I sincerely hope that no new NFL team decided to name itself the Techies, or they’ll be fighting to keep the name fifty years from now when it’s moved into the realm of totally offensive language that people don’t like.

For the record, you can call me a techie if you want.  I’m sure, like I said, you could call me worse without ginning up your imagination all that much.  I suppose I could sit in a coffee shop somewhere and complain about all the things you call me, but instead I’ll get to work early in the morning like I usually do, work my butt off like I usually do, and keep up the effort to outpace all the people around me.  Since that’s what successful people who don’t care about labels likely do to avoid being hurt by dumb terms.

Oh, and get off my lawn.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2013 12:45 pm

    It would help if the techies didn’t act as if they are entitled per my earlier post about the Dickensonian class conditions the techies themselves appear to be helping create…

  2. December 3, 2013 9:28 pm

    I suppose it all means that “techie” is just not hip anymore.
    “San Francisco State linguistics lecturer”: Does it get any lower on the academic ladder?

    • December 4, 2013 12:01 pm

      Perhaps, “SF State Females in War Studies Intern?”

      There are days when I think I’d like to be a college prof, and then I read what college profs say.

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