Friday, 20 May 2011

155: Age of Uncertainty

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Crossers of a certain age...

You know that phrase, "...of a certain age", when referring to people?
I believe it's a polite euphemism for saying that someone's either in middle-age or old. Well, can we have some clarification on what the age is please? The phrase "of a certain age" should be, in itself, quite specific. It's not "...of an approximate age". In fact, that's almost the exact opposite of what it's referring to. If you use the phrase "...a certain someone", you're alluding to an actual person (and it's usually very clear in context who that person is). Why should the age-version be any different?

You can't use "...of a certain age" as a catch-all for a vague range which could be anywhere from 50 to 70. If you're going to do that, we're all "...of a certain age", it's just the certainty that varies from person to person. In fact, now you mention it, I'm of a certain gender and have a certain haircut.

You may think it's polite to fudge around someone's age like that, but if anything you're inviting people to round it upwards! How is that civil at all? "Teenagers" don't mind as they're always trying to appear older anyway, and that's only a seven-year bracket. But your neighbour who's in her late 40's isn't going to be quite as chuffed, is she?

With this in mind, I'd like the phrase "...of a certain age" to be allocated to an actual fixed (and officially notated) number. Then, everyone will know what the number is. And then you can stop using the phrase, because everyone will know you mean 58 (for example). Once that's in place, you can start saying 'over/under a certain age' if you like, I don't mind.

I'm not asking for much, just be more specific when you're trying to be vague.

Thank you so much.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

No comments:

Post a comment