Thursday, December 29, 2005

Socially speaking

Every field has its jargon, and occasionally some of it leaks out from the audience of insiders into the world at large. I'm not sure when exactly I first noticed, but starting a couple of years ago, it seemed that everyone who had cause to ask for your social security number -- such as when you called your bank on the phone -- referred to it as your "social." "Can I have the last four digits of your social?" they'll ask.

The first time I heard it, I thought it was a small slip-up, that bank people use the term "social" among themselves and the rep had used it inadvertently when talking to me. But overnight, it seemed, everyone was using this foreshortened version with the public at large; I can't recall the last time someone asked me for my "social security number" by that name.

Obviously, it's not a term that's difficult to grasp. Still, I wonder how many times the customer service person is asked "My what?". And of course I wonder whether the public at large will use the term outside of the context of banks and credit card companies and those who traffic in "socials" every day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not an American, but I find it quite interesting to learn about this fact.