Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Groovy new slang

Today I came across an acronym that I had never seen before: PEBCAK. A Google search gave me the definition: Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard. In the wry jargon of the Internet, a PEBCAK is a mistake made by a user, as opposed to a software or hardware error.

The Google references for PEBCAK appear to go back about three years. This is the closest that I get nowadays to cutting-edge slang. Maybe if I include PEBCAK in an email to the young engineers at work, they'll think I'm a hepcat or a groovy dude.

Or maybe not. Slang can be embarrassing if it misfires.

One summer long ago when I was a mere sprout of an engineering intern, a senior engineer directed my attention to a cute young secretary across the lobby and said, "Hubba. Hubba." This ancient slang, which fell out of fashion shortly after the troops returned from World War II, was a jarring surprise coming from the mouth of a gray-haired, pot-bellied engineer.