Monday, August 07, 2006

Middle aged? More like 62.5% aged

One thing (of the many) that bothers me is the misuse of language. I'm not talking about typos or just memory lapses. I am referring to misuse of word and their meanings. For example, I was reading some message boards on the weekend (geeky ones...please don't ask), when someone was discussing how a 40 year-old was "middle aged". Then another poster responded by saying, "since when is 40 middle-aged?", and implied that the term is reserved for people around 50 years old. To paraphrase Niles on Frasier, you're only middle-aged at 50 is you expect to live to 100.

I firmly believe language is always in flux. A language should be able to adapt and integrate new words and terms in order to stay relevant. Any language establishing strict guidelines is doomed to failure because it will not have the ability to transform itself to stay current. Meanings of words change based on usage. But something as obvious as the word "middle-aged" or "mid-life" should be simple. The life expectancy of Canada is around 80. Ergo, middle-aged should be 40, with an accepted tolerance of, say, 5 years. This goes for the more recent term "quarter-life crisis", as well, which averages out to around 25 years old. People generally don't live to be 100.

While I am on the subject, I think anybody who says the word "irregardless" when they mean "regardless" should have a dunce cap permanently affixed to their scalp via Krazy Glue and secured by Frankenstein-esque bolts.

No comments: