"Welcome"? Really?


I called the technology help desk for my company the other day and heard, “Welcome to the CSC help desk for United Technologies.” And that got me to thinking about the word “welcome” and this kind of use.

In the definitions of the word “welcome” that I’ve found, the word “arrival” is nearly always found, the implication being that in order to be “welcome”, one must physically arrive somewhere. And yet here we have a clear example of my being welcomed to somewhere that doesn’t exist and where I clearly haven’t gone. It seemed strange.

Stranger still is being welcomed to computer systems. I noticed a long time ago that Windows does it every time you start up. “Welcome!” it declares, though I have not arrived anywhere. Mac OS does it only once when you install it, but it does so in a multitude of languages and with a pretty groovy beat. Yet I still haven’t arrived anywhere.

Why am I being welcomed if I have neither left one place nor arrived at another?

What these systems all are trying to say, of course, is greetings or hello. And indeed, why can’t they simply say that? “Greetings! You have reached the CSC blah blah blah” doesn’t sound any worse. Even “Hello! You have reached…” works just fine.

And this? Hello.jpg It’s perfect.

But “Welcome to the [virtual thing which isn’t even a place]…?” Sorry, that just doesn’t work for me.

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