Friday, 3 January 2014

Pandering and the destruction of linguistic meaning

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I have noticed several examples of how pandering to particular groups destroys the meaning of language (Note: I am talking from a British perspective here).

1. Pupils to students.

Kids want to be thought of as older than they are. Children at school used to be called pupils, now they are called students - whereas 'students' used to be reserved for those at college or university. Now there is no generic terms to differentiate those at college from those at school.


2. Middle aged.

After the age of about 25, adults want to be thought of as younger than they are. Hence the term Middle Aged seems to have disappeared altogether; because of the delusional concept of modern middle aged people - not only women - who resent not being thought of as 'young'. Yet just 30-40 years ago, middle aged began by 40 at the latest - now, it would be regarded as insulting to call a 45 year old middle aged.


3. Old people.

For the same reason as the above, apparently nobody wants to be referred to as 'old' - yet this term used to be used from about age 50-55. Enforcement of this 'nobody is old' rule amounts to a pretended selective-blindness - and we are supposed to feign that we believe old people to be a couple of decades younger than their chronological age. But no matter the age, nobody wants to be thought of as old. This has now reached ridiculous proportions - a 90 year old recently felt she had to reassure me that she personally 'did not mind' being called old.


4. 'Young Adult' fiction, a 'hot' category in publishing, which used to mean college-age books like Catcher in the Rye; is now used to refer to books such as The Hunger Games (read by many 10 year old kids) and even Harry Potter (read by 8 year olds).

'Nuff said.

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