More and more I am becoming concerned about the three-letter word that has become the thief of other most important and valuable “children” words in our vocabulary.
That word is ‘KID”.
In our everyday conversations and communications, by voice, media, advertising, newspapers and radio, the word ‘KID” has become all pervasive, inclusive and discriminatory in its use by all and sundry and as a Nation, we have allowed it to kidnap a whole host of “children” words from our everyday conversation.
The word “KID’ had its origin as meaning a young goat or, informally, a billy goat or nanny goat, though for some time it was also used to describe a child or a youngster. Today, its use has hijacked a whole host of “children” words, all with specific meanings of identity.
Today, a ‘’KID” can mean, and has replaced, a baby, a child, a youngster, a boy, a girl, a teenager, a student, a juvenile, a youth, an adolescent, a young person, even a young adult.
How, in conversation, people can use one word like “KID” to describe someone between birth and adulthood never ceases to confound me but that is what people do today. From an Education Minister talking about “KIDS” at school (rather than calling them students) to advertisers offering products for “KIDS” (with often no idea, or indication, what age group they are targeting), we seem content to accept the fact that it is not important to differentiate as to whom we are referring when we use this word in conversation about our children.
This is all the more surprising for I have no doubt that the use of the word “KID” is meant, and intended, to be endearing, however, because it is now used so widely without any genuine meaning being attached to its use, then this important emotional element has lost its impact and effect.
In a world where political correctness is considered important, though some would think even out of control, we are always being challenged as to the message we give when we do or say things that might offend, yet why is it that we do refer to our children as “KIDS” on so many occasions. Is there not a demeaning message conveyed in such a practice?
Whilst perhaps forgotten these days, and certainly not often used in this way, the word “KID” can also mean to tease, make fun of, ridicule, mislead, delude, trick, deceive, hoodwink, beguile or bluff. Are there some sub-conscious connections with these meanings and the use of the word “KID” to describe those who are between their birth and adulthood? Are we saying each time we use the word in this manner, as adults, we are not really taking you seriously.
Why has the word “KID” held us to ransom in this way? Laziness, in language, is probably the best explanation? It is easier to lump them all in together. Or perhaps our national habit of shortening things, especially words and names, in our day-to-day conversation is the answer?
For Advertisers, it is certainly more accommodating and economic when needing to target children – 8 letters versus 4 letters; the word ‘children’ requires double the space to that for “KIDS”, be it in print or display. Let’s save money. Economic justification? Just leave it up to the reader to decide as to whom it applies or is being targeted. Of course, what is really being said is “Forget their age, that’s not important”.
As adults, we have all gone through the adolescent period, from teenager into adulthood, and should recognise the psychological state that occurs during this period when recognition and self image becomes most important. Lumping this group into being part of the “KID” generation cannot be good and surely we need to consider this more seriously when communicating with or about them.
Let me pose this question: Is it not time to seek to recover these “children” words that have been “KIDNAPPED” from our general conversation and not be blackmailed into being lazy and unthoughtful in our dialogue at all times with any of our young people?
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