Simon Kelner: Lost for words? It's probably an age thing

Kelner's view

Related Topics

Like everything else in the modern world, our language is changing with breathtaking rapidity. Every time a new edition of a dictionary or thesaurus is brought out, there's a whole collection of new words and phrases that reflect contemporary life. The latest Chambers Thesaurus contains what they call a "Word Lover's Gallimaufry", a reassuringly old-fashioned title for a hotchpotch (the literal meaning of gallimaufry) of the cutting-edge vernacular of today.

An overwhelming majority of the additions to our daily language relate to new technology, and seem to me to be only used in common discourse by the young. Among the phrases invented by those who spend too much time attached to electronic gadgetry are "social notworking" (spending office time on Facebook) and "ringxiety" (the panic induced by hearing someone with the same ring tone as yours). I began to feel a little resentful that our language was now pandering to the young: what about words to describe the particular habits, tastes and anxieties of older people?

So here is my first stab at a lexicon for the middle-aged (i.e. anyone too old to shout "TMI" when someone's oversharing):

Specsasperation (noun): The condition endured by those who can't find their glasses. They've looked downstairs for them and then gone upstairs and, after finally remembering why they've gone upstairs in the first place, still can't find them. Only relieved when said spectacles are found on the top of the head.

Odeophobia (noun): The fear of booking cinema tickets using a voice-prompt system. It may be a perfectly efficient way of getting your seats at the Odeon, but the act of shouting "YES", "NO", "TWO", "EIGHT THIRTY" and "I SHOULD COCO" (try it for a laugh) down the phone at a disembodied female voice makes many people over 40 feel hideously self-conscious.

Tie anxiety (noun): Time was when a gentleman knew where he was, sartorially speaking. He wore a tie to the office, and at any formal or even semi-formal event. Now, there are no rules, and even Prime Ministers appear open-necked in public. This makes the act of pitching it right fraught with danger. A tie used to be a completely neutral piece of apparel: now it sends a message – buttoned up, or approachable? – that it was never meant to.

Trite Fright (noun): Aversion to the use of cliché, usually by politicians, and most especially by Justine Greening, the transport secretary, who used "going forward" twice in a short interview yesterday, and insists on calling problems, catastrophes and cock-ups "challenges".

Davrophilia (noun): Arriving at an age when you find yourself amused by those you never previously thought funny, most commonly a liking for the comedian Bobby Davro. "They treated me like royalty at my hotel," he says. "They took pictures of me stark naked." That's comedy we can relate to.

More to come in the near future.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: European Sales Director - Aerospace Cable & Wire

£100000 - £125000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a top tier supplier to the...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Project Manager

£17100 - £22900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an intermediate help de...

Recruitment Genius: CNC Turner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established manufactu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Caitlyn Jenner's first shoot is a victory - but is this really best version of femininity we can aspire to?

Sirena Bergman
The sun balances next to St Albans Church in Earsdon, North Tyneside.  

The world’s nations have one last chance to slow climate change

Michael McCarthy
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral