Language Barrier
Aaron Kushner

Nice piece. I, too, am fascinated by language and how resistant some people are to recognize that language is fluid, ever changing. In my communication classes I often shared with my students Lewis Carroll's brilliant conversation between Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Through the Looking-Glass:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

Thank you for addressing what I believe is both a social and spiritual matter. However, may I ask one question with only the best of intentions? I wonder if your use of one particular sentence was necessary, indeed appropriate:

“The current trend is one that alternately riles up the elderly like delayed AARP benefits and stimulates the creative identities of American youth” (emphasis added).

It’s not a very empowering image of the “elderly.” I have been eligible for AARP membership since turning 50, just six years ago. I am not elderly. And in the very brief time I was a member, the only “benefits” for which I was eligible were discounts at restaurants, motels, etc.

Communication always has consequences.

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