Most of the words and applications you know in life would be called something different in alternate history. Jon Courtenay Grimwood does not do this in his Pashazade series, using instead familiar brand names, even if in reality Nokia would be hard-pressed in most Alternate Histories to repeat the remarkable transformation of their business, and without the Korean War, the Japanese, let alone the Korean, electronic industries would not have got their OTL boost. But of course where Grimwood is concerned it doesn’t matter the writing is too good, the plots are too good, and the stuff that looked wrong still works in a cyberpunk sort of way.
But you cannot get away from the fact that it was a compromise to make his stories seem more familiar to readers, something a lot of cyberpunk writers do. In reality, it would NOT be familiar, but of course that is the point of this article.
Nobody would use a hoover, have a Bang & Olufsen stereo, drive a Ford, drink a Coors, wear wellington boots or cardigans, or eat sandwiches.
Imagine cleaning your carpet with a Burland, listening to a Smith and Wesson, drive a Ballsmobile, drink a nice cool pint of Blairs, put on your Weston boots in the rain, pull on a doncaster against the chill, or eat a nice cheese and ham arundel
If you don’t want to go the whole hog and completely make up these, you can go for alsorans. For the 1920s, for example, the automobile marques Locomobile, Star and Essex were common -carry them on some decades and it becomes alternate history. People might drink a Lion, or a pint of Trophy (or even a pint of Scotch, which I used to serve)
It is less clear cut where things that seem to have utilitarian names are concerned – to non-Americans the abbreviation ATM used to be very weird, then US shows took over our televisions, but most people still call them cash machines. And the whole linguistic family fo telegraph, phonograph, telephone, television… It was all sort of made up pseudo-science, and far from inevitable that it would become the norm. Indeed, far from inevitable that a Greco-Latin conglomeration would become how technology itself was to be named.
And when it comes to really modern technology, am I going to tweet, or perhaps in this alternate reality I am going to splurge? Instead of Facebook, we may have Bodybook? Or Headscroll? Or far more likely, a name that is completely strange and different – Buddyroll, Palster, Lynx?