As time goes on, we are less and less likely to record sound or video onto a physical electromagnetic tape. More and more often, such recordings are made onto computer hard drives or solid-state devices. Yet the word “tape” lives on to label the activity involved. We say we are going to tape an interview, tape a dance recital, or tape a new greeting for our voice mail, even when no tape is involved. The problem is that the word “record” is a little too unspecific to be substituted in all contexts for “tape,” so we fall back on this obsolete but handy word instead.

I’m not sure what can be done about this, but it bothers me. Now it can bother you too.

See also film.

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