NYT columnist Maureen Dowd was writing about films in the mix for an Oscar when she wrote: “And then there’s the kerfuffle over “Lincoln,” which had three historical advisors but still managed to make some historical bloopers.
I had never heard of a kerfuffle, so I checked it out.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a kerfuffle is a noun meaning a commotion or a fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views. It originated in the early 19th century, perhaps from the Scottish curfuffle.
A good synonym for kerfuffle is brouhaha. It is a commotion, but not violent.
In yet another NYT article, I came across a word I had never seen —
“On the outskirts of Shanghai, in a run-down neighborhood dominated by a 12-story white office tower, sits a People’s Liberation Army base for China’s growing corps of cyberwarriors.”
These are the people who attack computers in American corporations, organizations and government agencies.
Naturally, this led to the search for the origin of cyber via an Internet source identified as “Askville” by Amazon:
Cyber is originally from Greek but moved into contemporary usage in 1948. It is a prefix used to describe a person, thing or idea as part of the computer and information age.
It is taken from kybernetes, Greek for steersman or governor. First used in cybernetics, a word coined by Norbert Wiener. Common usages include cyberculture, cyberpunk and cyber-space (now cyberwarrior).
The more you study this “cyber business,” the more you realize that the cyberworld does not have the help of a well-established language. These cyberpioneers just make it up as they go up or down the cyber road. That may be why they come up with such words as
Google, Twitter, Facebook et al. There is difficulty in breaking rules when there are no rules to break.
It’s a bit weird, but that is the way of cyber world.
Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com