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Examples:

  • Database
  • Performant
  • Hyperlink

Are these correct usages of English, or not, and why?

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closed as not a real question by KitFox, RegDwigнt Feb 3 '12 at 13:39

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It seems you used some jargon yourself, namely correct English. As with all jargon, before we can answer a question about it, we need its precise definition. –  GEdgar Feb 3 '12 at 1:12
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@GEdgar Oh, good question, I don't know what "correct English" means either. Parliament and ROTFLMAO are English I can correctly understand. So let's say I mean "English that should not have a red squiggly under it". –  Camilo Martin Feb 3 '12 at 1:18
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@CamiloMartin Turn off the red squiggly thing; it's even dumber than you suspected. It just looks in a database and doesn't see something. You can put it in the database if you wanted to do Microsoft's work for them, but it really isn't worth the effort. BTW, there's nothing wrong with these words; it's just that Microsoft is run by and for Americans, who will believe anything and are very nervous about language because they're never taught about it. –  John Lawler Feb 3 '12 at 1:25
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@JohnLawler They're taught English in the schools for several years, but that further proves schools don't teach anything at all. Mind you, I've learnt english by playing videogames, and reading an old paper dictionary, before having internet. If I've learnt anything at a school I really can't remember :) Thanks for your comment, you have an awesome attitude. –  Camilo Martin Feb 3 '12 at 1:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Database" and "hyperlink" are proper in English; "performant" is not.

Those two "proper" words were invented to fulfill a lexical gap for a new technology; by counting these as improper English, things like "computer" would also become improper English; there is no other way to say "computer," "database," or "hyperlink" that is more commonplace.

However, if a non-standard word like "performant" overtakes a standard word like "capable," "agile," or "efficient" in general usage, then it can be considered proper English.

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‘Peformant’ sounds like something silly invented by some marketing department. I wouldn’t take it seriously. –  tchrist Feb 3 '12 at 2:11
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@DavidWallace Good to hear that, I feel the same way. Altough I'll reserve the word for trivial and informal use, e.g. commit messages like "Now the system is more performant on Linux", I don't want to sound like a brochure to anyone. –  Camilo Martin Feb 3 '12 at 6:31
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The OED records ‘performant’ as ‘A person who performs a duty, ceremony, etc., a performer’. It is shown as being ‘rare’, but there are three supporting citations, the earliest being from Coleridge in 1809. –  Barrie England Feb 3 '12 at 8:22
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@BarrieEngland In my opinion, that usage seems archaic. It still sounds marketing-ish, and I would refrain from using it anyway, even if it is accepted by the OED. –  Tortoise Feb 3 '12 at 22:33
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@DavidWallace "The Web" is indeed the first term that encapsuled a number of technologies including but not limited to the hypertext internet. "The Cloud" is more like "There's a server in an abstract fluffy place doing the gimmick automagically, look, a progressbar". –  Camilo Martin Feb 4 '12 at 1:05

'Proper English' is a hopelessly inadequate term for any description of the language. English exists in many varieties, and all have equal linguistic validity. The dialect most widely understood, and the one that non-native speakers learn is called Standard English, but it is spoken only by a minority.

Jargon describes the vocabulary used in a specialized field. It is very useful for those working in particular areas because it means they can economize in their use of language. A linguist, for example, can with advantage use the word cataphora when speaking to another linguist because it’s shorter than saying ‘a feature of grammatical structure that refers forward to another unit’. Used outside a specialized field, however, jargon will normally hinder rather than aid communication.

That said, some words that begin life in specialized use can become part of the wider language and, given the prevalence of technology, both database and hyperlink may now be two such words. On the other hand, performant probably still belongs to the jargon of computing.

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Thanks for your valuable input. So, it can be said that database and hyperlink are now Standard English, since the general population understand these words? –  Camilo Martin Feb 3 '12 at 12:37
    
@CamiloMartin: I would say that they'd always been Standard English, but that originally (and perhaps only briefly) their use was limited to the Standard English of those who understood what they meant. Standard English can be used in different registers and there is a computing register just as there are, for example, fiction, news reporting and academic registers. –  Barrie England Feb 3 '12 at 13:12

Yes 'jargon' is a proper English term. Words that can be classified as jargon could also be proper English words and phrases, in such cases they would be "English jargon". The commonest meaning of jargon is the vocabulary used by people belonging to a particular profession. A layman, hardly can make out words belonging to such jargon unless he/she has an interest in the field.

Ex; A computer jargon would involve such words as Monitor, Keyboard, Microprocessor, Hard disk drive, LED, LCD etc

A medical jargon would involve words like, hepatitis, cardiac arrest, anemia, conjunctivitis etc

Like wise a software/internet jargon will have such words as database, hyperlink, performant etc.

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well, I have no interest in medicine yet I can make out that list of words. But I see where you're getting at. –  Camilo Martin Feb 3 '12 at 7:31

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