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16 May, 2007

Random queries no. 111

One of a series of genuine search engine enquiries which successfully brought visitors to the Ministry.  Can I help?

key points to consider when designing a billboard advert for kids

Two would be that young goats aren't known for their reading ability and that they might be tempted to chew advertising placed too close to the ground.

This may be a lost battle against language evolution, but I find the use of 'kids' to mean human children more than averagely irritating.


Why do you find it so irritating? There are plenty of words that have had and are in the process of having new meanings added to them. Is this new definition of 'kid' something that has happened in your lifetime? It's a silly question as I'm sure it has been around longer then that.

Posted by AKALucifer at May 16, 2007 10:06 PM

As I said in the entry, I don't dispute that the word is in general usage, but all words are not equal, and it remains poor usage. I'm no Lynn Truss, and I don't lecture people about their misuse of English, but language does matter to me, a lot. It's about conveying nuance and subtext, not merely crude transfer of information. 'You know what I mean' is inadequate – say what you mean.

'Kids' belittles both the speaker and the subjects, reducing children to mere cutesy abstractions of baby animals. As a term of endearment in private, it's acceptable, but it has no place in general conversation between strangers, or in published writing (as dictionary definitions acknowledge). It also has lowest-common-denominator populist connotations; politicians use it to imply a connection to the council estates. It grates.

I certainly don't object to language evolution, but it doesn't automatically follow that every new usage is to be actively welcomed, irrespective of quality.

No, I don't recall 'kids' having this meaning when I was a, er, child, at least not in 'formal' everyday English between adults. It may have been private slang, just as a parent might address a toddler as "my little lamb", but I'm not aware of it being used in, say, parliamentary debate or a newspaper article.

Actually, try that: every time you encounter the word 'kid', mentally substitute 'little lamby'. I'm confident that you'll soon see what I mean about saccharine belittlement.

Posted by NRT at May 17, 2007 10:27 AM

XD I think you should write with such fury in all your articles. Well, not articles, but you know what I mean...oh wait!

It seems to my that the only reason you are against this word is that you have lived both before and after the word came into common usage by all levels of society. The other argument (that it belittles the speak and subject) stems from the fact you witnessed the introduction of the word and know the origins of it. To a younger person it carries none of these negative connotations.

An example would be the word 'yob' It originated from being the backslang of 'boy' it sounds as though (or does it read as though?) you would be the kind of person who would have objected to this negative connection at the time, however, because you were born long after the word lost all its connections with the word it originated from you probably don't have such strong opinion on the word.

Posted by AKALucifer at May 19, 2007 10:58 PM
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