Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
“Hard desk” for “hard disk” is dead common on the web. The “desk” in “hard desk” may be an extension of the desk metaphors employed in OS interfaces. Or perhaps the writer/speaker is metaphorically extending the information management role of an office desk to a computer storage device.
The adjective “hard” becomes a puzzle once it is attached to “desk.” Might it indicate the place where the user thinks persistent information resides (as opposed to the less permanent “soft desk” of the user desktop or volatile memory)?
The original phrase, “hard disk,” becomes more and more opaque each year. Computer disks as secondary storage devices came along in the mid-50s. When the less rigid, removable “floppy” disks appeared in the early 70s, computer disks became, by contrast, “hard” disks. The phasing out of the floppy disk in the 00s did not cancel the “hard” of “hard disk.” And now, on some advanced devices (e.g., tablets, netbooks), the hard disk is not even a disk – it is nonvolatile RAM. The march of technology has systematically gutted the expression, leaving it an empty semantic shell.
Oddly, the “save” icon that initiates storage of data on the computer’s hard disk usually depicts a semirigid floppy disk. One wonders what eight-year-old computer whizzes make of this icon? Many of them have never seen a floppy disk.
Three of the many examples of “hard desk:”
: “Hello, can not find the hard desk on my computer”
: “ I want to know if the hard desk (storage) is covered by the international warranty”
: “ I can’t use my external hard desk with my laptop”