February 11, 2010

Where have all the Davenports gone?

At my old job, I was sometimes accused by my co-workers of being hopelessly out-of-date.  We've probably all done this - you're trying to make a point, and you use a phrase or pop culture reference from 20 years ago - which in your head still resonates today, but with others?  Not so much.  I believe I referred to Anita Hill and one of the people who I was talking to didn't even know who she was.  Yikes.

Then I started thinking about words that one would see all the time before, but in the last 10-20 years seem to have gone the way of, well, Anita Hill.  Here are some examples:

Tablet:  Growing up, I heard this word all the time, meaning both for writing and for swallowing.  Now no one uses it.  If you're actually writing (does anyone do this anymore?), you use a notebook or sometimes, note pad.  If you're taking medication, you're probably taking a pill (not to be confused with The Pill!) or a capsule.  Or, one may use the now-generic "Aspirin" to mean anything from aspirin to Tylenol.
What happened to "tablet"?  Was is advertising's fault, what with their fancy names/euphemisms for pills?  Capsules, caplets, tabs - you hear all of those, but never 'tablet' anymore.  Strange.

Davenport:  Okay, many of you probably never heard this one but if you had older parents, maybe you did.  Growing up, I was in the unique position to have parents that were 26 years apart so my dad was old enough to be my grandfather (he was born in 1920).  He used this word all the time.  My younger husband (born in 1974) didn't know what it was, so don't feel bad if you don't.   My dad used "davenport" interchangeably with sofa all the time.  Sometimes, he even used "divan".  I credit my multi-generational family for my better-than-average vocabulary, for reasons like this.  FYI - "Davenport" is actually a brand name for a type of sofa, as is "Chesterfield" (like in the Barenaked Ladies song, "If I had a Million Dollars").

Nowadays:  As a kid one of my second grade textbooks was called, "How it is Nowadays".  I believe it was for reading.  Nowadays, what second-grader would know what "nowadays" means?  I suppose it's pretty self-explanatory, but really - when's the last time you heard this word?  I find myself using "these days" or just, "today", as in, "our world today".  I'm curious - does anyone out there use "nowadays" anymore?

Typing:  This one isn't quite there yet, but in the next 10-15 years people will definitely know how old you are (see "davenport", above) if you're still using it.  I'm told that in schools nowadays (tee hee) the correct class to take is "Keyboarding".  It wasn't that long ago that it was still typing class, was it?  I've been out of high school (gulp) 24 years, and I think it's a safe bet that they were still using those fabulous IBM Selectrics up until the early Nineties.  But with the advent of this here Interweb and Smartphones and all of that, it won't be long before you're an old fogey if you use "typing" as your verb of choice.

Fogey:  See "Mel" in the dictionary; can also be referred to as "unhip".


  1. I use "Davenport and Divan" all the time haha And my friends are all like "its a couch"...

  2. Ha ha Mick - I'm glad I'm not alone! We can be trailblazers and introduce it back into the lexicon in a big way. :D

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.