OT: Re: "Hacker" vs "Cracker" et al.

Ian Malone ibmalone at gmail.com
Sat Mar 16 10:04:29 UTC 2013

On 15 March 2013 23:03, Patrick O'Callaghan <pocallaghan at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, 2013-03-15 at 18:47 -0400, Doug wrote:
>> On 03/15/2013 06:25 PM, Frank Murphy wrote:
>> > On Fri, 15 Mar 2013 15:21:07 -0700
>> > Richard Vickery <richard.vickeryrv at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >
>> >> Does this mean that you just let them adulterate the term?
>> > You would have to re-write current popular culture.
>> > Language and it's use change, by it's very usage.
>> >
>> Language is fickle. Gay used to mean happy-go-lucky;
>> nuke used to mean to drop an atom bomb on; transistor
>> still is a three-wire device made (usually) of silicon, used
>> for amplifiers and switches, but in common usage it means
>> a radio; nice was once pejorative.  And we used to have
>> "gotten" and, a little earlier, "shaven" but our verbs are
>> regularizing themselves whether we like it or not.
>> So whether you like it or not, hack usually connotes
>> unlawful intrusion on a computer. Ce la vie!
> I think you mean "C'est la vie", ...
> Anyway, I still refer to talented programmers as hackers in a
> non-perjorative sense because there isn't a good one-word alternative.
> Geeks doesn't cut it because there are lots of geeks who don't program.

Yes, basically words can change use, but you get very circular if you
start to say you think the meaning is changing so you must change to
follow the dictionary definition. And words can have more than one
meaning. Actually, the first example above. Gay used to mean happy and
joyful, then meant homosexual, and for a long time was used as a
playground insult, but the community it applies to have (in places at
least) reclaimed it as something positive. The press generally get
lots of detail wrong, so it doesn't really make sense to try and
conform to their usage.


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