Scifi Pet Peeve #23,413: Over-description of Elements.

“Would you repair my food synthesizer?”

They are talking about kitchen appliances.

Quick poll, everyone, what do you call your kitchen appliances? Do you say ‘thermal insulator’ or ‘fridge’? Do you say ‘dielectric heater’ or ‘microwave’?

As new things are invented, language overtakes them, and in general most languages immediately pair their names down into the shortest string of syllables possible. More than that, very rarely does slang allow for things to retain the most basic elements of their function. I don’t call my car a automotive transporter. I call it a car, and people who know what cars are know what my car does.

“Would you repair my autovor?”

This goes further than kitchen appliances, though: often, characters will talk about the ‘wave lenght calibrator’ or the ‘polarity reverser’ or whatever technobabble they’re spewing today (self-sealing stem bolts!). These are things that are presumably not new to the characters. They should have names that tell the characters what they’re doing– can you fix the microacer?– but to someone who hasn’t grown up in a society with microacers (or, to complete the analogy, cars or fridges) make no sense.

Which is all great from a watsonian perspective, but leaves your doylist viewers out on the cold.

So I know why this happens. The writers want to give the viewers (or readers, whatever) a good idea of what the characters are actually talking about while still keeping things appropriately futuristic. And you should always err on the side of your viewers being able to enjoy your work, or at least, I understand why people do.

But damn if it doesn’t annoy me.

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