surf the internet/surf (on) the waves ?

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Hese

Senior Member
German
Hello there,

I was just wondering whether you say "I love surfing on the waves" or "I love surfing the waves" - as you "surf the internet" but as far as I know, you don't "surf on the internet".

Thank you very much
 
  • katie_here

    Senior Member
    England/English
    If "surf" short for surface, as in surface wave. Then if you surf on a wave, on a surface wave board, it surely must follow that you surf the internet, because it's only touching the surface and not delving in deep or going into too much detail.


    EDITED.

    Apologies. This was not thought out right, nor explained very well. My apologies for any confusion I may have caused. I hadn't intended to post this yet and got a shock this morning when I received a PM from a mod about it's content. I was writing it, and trying to clarify it, and then I moved away from the keyboard. I think it must have got posted since.


    Please disregard this post.
     
    Last edited:

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Similarly, we have the term "channel surfing" for those individuals who amuse themselves with the television remote control and constantly switch channels (usually to the extreme annoyance of other persons in the room)
     

    Hese

    Senior Member
    German
    katie_here - you're confusing me! So both are ^possible? To surf on the wave - if it's just the surface, to surf the wave, when it's deeper? I'm lost....
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    Hese - looking at google, it is clear that people do sometimes say "surf the wave/s" and "surf on the wave/s" when they are talking about normal surfing. The version with 'on' is much less common and sounds bad to me.

    However, I would not normally use either. When discussing normal surfing, the default is just plain "surfing", as in "I love surfing." Many of the hits that your versions turn up on google are metaphorical: "to surf the wave of ___" means to use that trend or situation to further your goals. ("riding/surfing the wave of the future" is a particularly common example.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I think Franzi makes an insightful and important point about surf+[on]+waves often being metaphorical, Hese.

    And I wouldn't worry about katie's suggestion of a possible link between "surf" and "surface". The OED entries for the two words make it plain there is no etymological relationship.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    According to the Compact OED, surf comes from suff, not from surface:

    surf


    noun the mass or line of foam formed by waves breaking on a seashore or reef.
    verb 1 stand or lie on a surfboard and ride on the crest of a wave towards the shore. 2 occupy oneself by moving from site to site on (the Internet).


    — ORIGIN apparently from obsolete suff, of unknown origin.
    I wonder if the notion that surfing requires a surfboard is especially BE. In AE one can surf or surf the waves with no equipment. That's called body surfing.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Excuse me, cuchito, but the person who equated "to surf" with "to ride a surfboard on" was Dimcl, a CanE speaker.

    Personally, I surf using my inflatable rubber ring, under-sixes-for-the-use-of.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    You are excused, Missie Loob. I am well aware of Dimcl's fine CanE credentials. Did you notice that the COED, presumably crafted from balsa wood by great BE speaking artisans, said, "verb 1 stand or lie on a surfboard and ride on the crest of a wave..."?
     
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