As I have explained here many times in the past, I made a deliberate decision when I began this blog a decade ago to never use old-age euphemisms - those cutesy-poo names like golden-ager, third-ager and oldster along with the offensive ones such as coot and biddy.
For similar reasons, I also avoid senior, senior citizen and mature because they are meant to hide the idea of old age.
Instead, my references would be straight forward – old and older, as grammar requires - and a push to reclaim elder beyond its too-limited usage for church and tribal persons of age.
As I regularly try to remind you, dear readers, there is nothing wrong with being old but you wouldn't know that from even some elders themselves.
Every time I write about the demeaning language old people are subject to, I can count on a number of comments insisting that language doesn't matter or that people who use demeaning language for old people are only trying to be kind.
No. Language intended to mask old age is not kind; it reinforces the idea that growing old is bad.
Last week, the British classicist Mary Beard spoke at the Cheltenham Literary Festival about why reaching old age should be a source of pride. As The Independent reported:
"The 59-year-old also said attempt to pay someone a compliment by saying they did not look their age was 'one of the weirdest bits of double-think in our culture.'
“'I’m really trying to do that to reclaim the word old. I think about it in terms of other kinds of reclamations of vocabulary we've had over the years, such as "black" or “queer,” she said, according to The Daily Telegraph.
“'I'm rather keen for a campaign to do that for old, instead of "old" instantly connoting the hunched old lady and gentleman on the road sign, or the picture that you get on the adverts you get for senior railcards.'"
Whew! I've been banging on about the glory and honesty of the word “old” for ten years so I am pleased to have someone of Ms. Beard's stature joining the campaign. It's about time.
And it also seems a good occasion to repeat the great George Carlin's outstanding riff on the abomination of euphemisms for “old” that I've posted before.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: Who, What, When and Why?