San Francisco techies upset at being called "techies"
San Francisco State linguistics lecturer Jenny Lederer said the word "techie" may have started to pick up a set of inferences, which can make a benign, neutral word sound negative - so "techie," like how it's used in the song, may now conjure up ideas of gentrification and entitlement more than, for example, the terms "software engineer" or "tech worker" do.
Adding further insult, Lederer said: "The 'ie' suffix can sound belittling, like 'groupie' or 'yuppie.' The 'er' suffix in English is agentive, as in 'hacker,' thus sounds stronger."
She was not surprised that the terms "nerd" and "hacker" have become more popular.
"What we see with 'nerd' is amelioration, a word with a formerly negative connotation becoming more positive."
Next to a long line waiting to order at Sightglass, Drew Lyttle was at a table drawing.
"I do work at a startup, but I don't identify as a techie, no," said the 32-year-old Lyttle, who works as an illustrator for a gaming startup. "In this city, 'techie' is like 'hipster' - even if you are one, you don't want to identify."
"People talk about 'techies' with such disdain, like 'Oh, it's this thing that's swamping the city,' so of course the word's gotten negative."
He was sketching cartoon creatures for a new computer game - "I got called a yuppie the other day. And people in the Financial District would probably look at me and say, 'Oh God, another techie.' "