I received an email today informing me that, because of the rain, the soccer gods were moving my daughter’s soccer match to the “turf field”. My first though was “Well, that’s dumb, the turf field will be all muddy. They should move to the artificial turf field!” (turf means “grass and the surface layer of earth held together by its roots.”, according to google, and to me). Reading this email was immediately followed by the niggling tension in the pit of my stomach. I was not properly grasping the intended meaning of the email.
A follow-up texting session with my wife, and conversations with co-workers confirmed what I suspected - the coach (and pretty much everyone but the landscape industry, and even some of them) were using “turf” to mean “artificial turf”. Hmm...the language had shifted without me noticing it. Did I miss the expected intermediate phase where we say “natural turf” and “artificial turf”, or did we just jump to this new meaning? Based on the results of a few google searches, this looks well entrenched. It is a battle long past winning.
In any case, if I want to speak with specificity in the future, I’ll have to clarify my meaning Maybe I'll go with turfgrass. I sure as hell won't be calling artificial turf, "turf". The sporting industries seem to contrast “turf” (meaning artificial turf) with “grass”. It seems vague, non-specific, awful. It looks like the future.