Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Different Kind of Language Lesson

Link to October 7 New York Times article, "In ‘Sweetie’ and ‘Dear,’ a Hurt for the Elderly" and related article, "The Little Things That Rankle".

Professionals call it elderspeak, the sweetly belittling form of address that has always rankled older people: the doctor who talks to their child rather than to them about their health; the store clerk who assumes that an older person does not know how to work a computer, or needs to be addressed slowly or in a loud voice. Then there are those who address any elderly person as “dear.”

“People think they’re being nice,” said Elvira Nagle, 83, of Dublin, Calif., “but when I hear it, it raises my hackles.”

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