My housemates and I have interesting conversations at times @ home.
Mr Krishna was telling me about how he didn’t understand the meaning of ping used here, like “Ping me when you’re done” or “I’ll ping you”
So I reply that meanings of words change, and many a times it get derived so much it doesn’t reflect its original context or meaning. Nevertheless its good to know its original meaning and know how it evolved. So while the technical guys know the purpose of “ping” or the IMCP echo, some might think that ping came from “ping pong” (table tennis), as seen in the IRC days. The most likely inspiration of the word ping would be sound waves created by sonar in submarines.
Another interesting topic is “blog” (in its context have another meaning for ping too), derived from weblog, was in fact a technical term for a developer’s/designer’s tool. After some time, blog was almost a synonym to “online diary” and these days blogs has also almost become an essential part of online marketing.
Other times brand and product names affect people’s vocabulary too. For example, most people doesn’t seem to know that “Rollerblade” is in fact just a brand for the sport “In-line skating”. Photocopying could be called “Xerox” in America, and “zapping” in Singapore. I used the word “Scotch tape” for years before knowing its a trademark for a adhesive tape product.
Then the singaporean language “culture” or Singlish is a big culprit of giving new meaning to words, infecting the native English, Malay and Hokkien. And for that we have a few online Singlish dictionaries here and here.
Its interesting but whether this word morphing culture is good or not, I don’t know. We tend to get petty smart and lazy using such words, but at the same time we are adding more definitions to our dictionary entries.