I often say to people that language is important… you have to be careful about what you say because people with mis-interpret (sometimes deliberately) what you say.
An old university lecturer of mine always used to pick his students up on their language; if someone made the mistake of saying something like: ‘I’m looking at doing some research into…’ he’d always say: ‘look at? What’s wrong with actually doing something about it?’
I would say, though, that language can be taken too far and I had just such an experience last week.
There’s a scheme being run by some councils in Scotland to get 16-19 year olds into work. It goes like this…
The young people have a week at college learning about work, health and safety, PCs and so on. Then each young person is placed with a business that has a vacancy for 8 – 12 weeks. It has to be a proper job and the young person is paid by the council and actually has an employment contract with them.
Great! What a scheme.
I met with the co-ordinator last week because we need to fill just such a vacancy. A very entertaining half hour it was, too.
The lady who came to see me was very nice and was clearly very in tune with all the latest PC phrases.
If she called the group of 16-19 year olds ‘young people’ once, she used the phrase a thousand times… so much so that it was clear there was a chance the language police might arrest her if she used the word ‘youths’ or ‘young ‘uns’ or, heaven forbid, ‘kids’.
Clearly, young person is a good term to use but I reckon the ‘young people’ on the scheme would run rings around this very nice lady.
She went on to tell me that she was going to meet the ‘young people’ later in the day and she would find out if any of them wanted to work in a busy office or travel the whole 15 miles to Edinburgh.
She lowered her voice, looked about guiltily, leaned forward conspiratorially before whispering ‘I think sometimes the parents haven’t really given their young person the right experiences.’
You are kidding me!
Did you mean to say ‘children’? ‘They haven’t given their children the right experiences.’
Shhhh… don’t say the ‘ch’ word, you’ll get us both in trouble.
Please, please protect me from these buffoons in government.