Saturday, February 14, 2009

How to talk about old people

Some California "wisdom" below. The report is from Ireland and I think they had fun listing all the "forbidden" terms. I must confess I had a few laughs myself.
"'Codger' is out, and don't even think about using 'fogey', 'fossil' or 'elderly', ageism activists in the US have warned. In fact, 'senior' and 'of a certain age' are also no--nos on a list of dos and don'ts of reporting people of a certain age. The advice is included in a media guide on reporting issued by the International Longevity Centre and Ageing Services of California.

In it, the campaign groups attempt to help journalists and advertisers represent 'older people' - its preferred term - in a "fair contemporary and unbiased" manner. To redress the bias, the pressure groups have listed a lexicon of unacceptable terms for older adults. It includes 'biddy', 'old goat' and 'prune' - all of which should not be used. 'Old ladies' of both the 'little' and 'sweet' variety are also to be avoided. Gone too should be 'old fart' and 'miserly old man', the report states

Indeed the list of acceptable terms is far shorter than those that can't be used. Journalists are advised: "If you need to identify individuals over the age of 50, 'older adults' is preferred over "senior" and "elderly", which can be discriminatory in nature.

Euphemisms are also not the best way forward, according to the guide. So out goes 'golden years' as a description of an individual's period of life relating to the years after being deemed to be an older adult.


Posted by John Ray.

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