cell / mobile

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cell / mobile

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Dec 31, 2001 8:56 pm

When I first left the UK some 20 years ago, mobile telephony was in its infancy. At that time, these things were called cellphones (in the UK). When they became truly widespread in the mid-nineties, it appears that they started being called "mobiles" or "mobile phones" in the UK. Recently, I see that Brits have started calling them "cells".

The shifts in US usage seem to have been different. "Mobile (phone)" was in common use much earlier than in the UK and the use of "cell" is a good few years old now.

My question: Am I right in thinking that usage has almost merged now, and that most speakers on both sides of the Pond use "cell"?

I have to translate the German term (that's another story!) into English virtually every day, sometimes with the requirement for US usage and sometimes for UK usage.
Submitted by Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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cell / mobile

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 9:10 pm

Phil, in Canada we refer to them as Cell phones.However,when I give out my satellite phone number I refer to it as Satellite phone. In Arabic speaking Africa they still refer to it as Mobile Phones.
Ahmed
18th of May,2004
Reply from Ahmed ELNamer (Dawson Creek - Canada)
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cell / mobile

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 9:25 pm

During a discussion about the effect that the cellphone has had on our communication habits which was broadcast on the US radio network NPR's 'Talk of the Nation' the other day, I heard a woman caller say that she had both a mobile phone and a cellphone. They are not the same thing, apparently.

She explained that her cellphone relied on the familiar technology of base stations relaying her calls from cell to cell, whereas the calls she made on her mobile phone were relayed by satellite, and accordingly this phone had much better geographical coverage.

This was a distinction that until then had eluded both me and the programme's presenter.

Regarding your original query, Phil, I think you are right that 'cellphone' is now gaining ground in the UK, but there are still a great many people there who prefer to call it (or who still call it) a mobile. I suspect that this parallel terminology will persist in the UK for some time, just as 'notebook' has not yet ousted 'laptop' in the world of mobile computing.
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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cell / mobile

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 9:39 pm

Ahmed, Erik,

You seem to bear out what I feel. Being slightly isolated from mainstream English as I am over here, it's difficult to be "state-of-the-art" (which I also believe is losing currency in favour of alternatives such as "cutting edge").

As far as the distinction between "mobile" and "cellphone" in the broadcast you mention is concerned, I suspect it is spurious.

I have, however, heard satellite telephony described as "truly mobile telephony".
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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cell / mobile

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 9:53 pm

It is, I only use it when necessary. It can be a lifesaver especially in our neck of the woods. The highways are treacherous during the winter months and accidents happen quite often.
Ahmed
21st of May, 2004

Reply from Ahmed ELNamer (Dawson Creek - Canada)
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cell / mobile

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 10:08 pm

By the way, Phil's remark on the German term alludes to the funny fact that, in vernacular German, a mobile phone (not a cordless, though) is called a "handy" and pronounced as if that were an English term. There are many other English words in German that are used in ways that substantially differ from their original English sense, such as "Slip" (meaning panties, underpants), "Mobbing" (meaning bullying at work, even by one single person), "Homepage" (meaning a Web site), "Loft" (meaning an apartment built into what was a loft before the apartment was built) etc.. Motto: English is fashionable, no matter how wrong it is. Anyway, Phil is right: That's another story indeed.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 10:22 pm

Hans-Joerg,

A colleague of mine coined the term "reverse-englineering" for this phenomenon. I often use the term "Angloid".
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 10:37 pm

Thank you Phil. After a good laugh I'm going to add them both to my vocabulary.
As for notebooks vs. laptops, as mentioned by Erik Kowal: A notebook is substantially smaller and lighter than a laptop computer, usually with smaller keys, e.g. 16 x 16 mm instead of 19 x 19 mm; but please don't expext me to convert those millimeters (for Brits: millimetres) to x/256 inches for the Merikins.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 10:51 pm

Hans-Joerg, Erik

I'm not at all sure about the notebook/laptop distinction. When "notebooks" and the term itself first appeared (about 5 years ago or so?), there was indeed a size distinction. Nowadays, people like Dell and Fujitsu Siemens only sell "notebooks", although my own Inspiron is much heftier than what I would be tempted to call a "notebook"; it was nevertheless sold as one when I bought it two years ago.

The word "laptop" appears to be extinct for marketing purposes, whatever the size of the machine.
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 11:05 pm

Phil, it may be a bit off the original topic, but I would steer clear of any company or salesperson who tries to sell me a laptop as a notebook. It's like those who sell scanners by "interpolated resolution" or digital photo cameras by "digital zoom ratio" - humbug. Flee from computer salesclerks too who say "kilobyte." They don't know a thing about computers.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 11:20 pm

Hans-Joerg, is humbug ("something designed to deceive and mislead" - Merriam-Wabster Online) not the stock in trade of marketing?
Reply from Phil White (Munich - Germany)
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 11:34 pm

Phil, you're right. That's why fuel-guzzling SUVs are sold to people who never use them for more than grocery-shopping around the corner. However, one can try to learn where the pitfalls are. A 5 x 1000 W RMS surround-sound system in a 160 sq.ft living room simply doesn't make sense.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 11:49 pm

I guess it is all a matter of want versus need.How about a 6
foot tall person buying a Ferrai or Lamburgini?
Ahmed
27 of May,2004
Reply from Ahmed ELNamer (Dawson Creek - Canada)
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Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jan 01, 2002 12:03 am

Ahmet, my neighbor is 6 ft tall and has a Lamborghini. It seems he doesn't even need a shoehorn to get in, but when he starts the engine at 5:30 a.m., I find myself 6 ft above my mattress within less than a second.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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cell / mobile

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jan 01, 2002 12:17 am

Oops, again I typoed a name. Sorry Ahmed.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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