Why Do People Date Themselves in Conversation? Our Take on Technology That Changes Language

90s Cassette Tape Retro Concept

We’ve all heard it, and everybody does it. 

We’ve all dated ourselves in conversation without even realizing it.

Today’s blog from Akorbi examines how and why language becomes outdated due to technology, and why people accidentally date themselves in conversations.

Does Technology Change Our Language Usage?

With how quickly technology is advancing it isn’t surprising when an out-of-date reference finds its way into conversation. Things like videotapes, cassette tapes, and floppy disks strike more familiarity with Boomers and Generation X versus Millennials and Generation Z. 

Generation Z would refer to the replacements of these words as Blu-ray discs, virtual drives, and streamed content. All of these names refer to the same thing: devices containing content for the purpose of entertainment. In fact, the same content that was originally contained on that first grouping of technology devices has been converted digitally into higher-quality versions featured by the second grouping. 

However, if you asked who preferred which, you would find that it depends on the generation you ask. This is because of the memories involved with the words spoken. 

So, Why Do We Date Ourselves in Conversation?

It all has to do with the adaptability and development of the brain. The parts of the brain that focus on language acquisition also directly interact with memory retention. An interesting set of studies using modern brain imaging techniques and the latest improvements in neurophysiological measures to investigate brain functions has revealed that the memory functions of the brain influence many parts of an individual’s development. 

What’s an Example?

According to the article Dynamic auditory processing, musical experience and language development in Trends in Neurosciences, which was supported by the National Library of Medicine, Doctor’s Tallal and Gaab are dedicating intense research as a focus on the parts of the brain that focus on memory retention in children. 

Children who showed evidence of language-learning impairments also showed genetic evidence of auditory spectro-temporal processing deficits. Meaning, children who seem to struggle acquiring language skills also seem to struggle with processing auditory information like music. 

This is interesting if we think about the reverse situation of this article. Individuals that do not show this learning impairment seem to pair language acquisition in their memory with the development of certain auditory/aural skills. 

This idea is supported by research published by Ronald Devere, MD, in the online information base Practical Neurology, in his article Music and Dementia: An Overview. Dr. Devere’s research supports the idea that in dementia patients, those who have acquired specific memories tied to auditory experiences do not lose the retained details and emotions tied to these specific experiences. This is called procedural memory. The parts of the cerebral cortex and cerebellum that interact when acquiring these memories are retained even into the later stages of dementia. 

Our Words Are Attached To Our Identity

When we have specific experiences during important time periods of our lives, we tie our verbiage to those memories. So in daily conversations with coworkers, potential clients, or our bosses, we tend to focus on investing ourselves in the conversation. We end up focusing so closely on what our co-conversationalist is saying, that our minds revert into what many call “autopilot,” and we naturally revert to the verbiage tied to deep memory experiences. 

What Does This Mean?

Sometimes, talking about an exciting entertainment moment on TV can lead to saying, “Oh! I have to remember to tape that for later!” Taping was very popular in a range of time from the 1980s to early 2000s. 

So a person making this kind of statement could have been in their late teens to mid-twenties in this time frame. The entertainment content experienced in this time of their lives left an imprint on their brain and found its way into the way they speak while completing their daily routine. 

In the Slate article Neural Nostalgia there is a statement referenced by Daniel Levitin, the author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. He states, “We are discovering music on our own for the first time when we’re young…often through our friends. We listen to the music they listen to as a badge, as a way of belonging to a certain social group. That melds the music to our sense of identity.” 

Who We Are Is Reflected In How We Speak

Our verbal thoughts are tied to our memory development, and experiences just as much as our internal thoughts are. This is why it isn’t necessarily a bad thing when we date ourselves in conversations. If anything, when we hear small slips of verbiage from our coworkers, we should wonder about the amazing experiences potentially associated with the words they speak. 

Who knows? A “floppy disk” to them could be associated with receiving Donkey Kong for Christmas, and spending hours on the computer during winter break from school. “Taping” the show you were talking about could take them back to high school when they would watch videotaped reruns of Charlie’s Angels or Cheers after class or on the weekend after work. We just don’t always know what’s going on with the individuals in our lives. However, language and the ties it has to memory development can give us some insight. If we allow it to.

Related Post: How Cultural Influences Can Change Localization Practices

Akorbi Helps You Navigate Language Issues With Interpretation Services

Akorbi’s interpretation services focus on helping individuals place context within communication. Contact Akorbi online or call 1-877-4-AKORBI for more information on our translation or interpretation services.

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