ISMISM New concepts for the Nineties

No. 11: youfemism

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Youf n 1. the quality of being young, immature or inexperienced. 2. the period between childhood and maturity, nowadays extending to the point just before death or social redundancy.

youfism n the cult of youf which arrogates to itself functions and rights which previously were the province of themiddle-aged or mature, qv, now obs. See policemen, younger looking; tennis players, etc, and Jodie and Jade, youf models who caused a stir at the New York fashion collections last week - Jodie, 17, only a month after making her debut at the New Generation Show in London and Jade, 16, still at school. Youfism is set on pushing its boundaries ever forward: see last week's news of the decision to grow a foetusin the womb of a profoundly brain-damagedwoman who is being kept alive solely for the purpose. Some youfist advances may be more universally welcomed, see judges to retire at 70.

youfanasia n the mercy killing of people who have reached the age of 40; can be voluntary or compulsory. Orig uncertain; may derive from The Youfyphro, a Socratic dialogue from Plato's early period, demonstrating the technique of exposing the inadequacy of other people's answers rather than putting forward something directoneself. Socrates was, of course, executed by being forced to drink hemlock after being accused of corrupting the youf of Athens.

youfoniad n mus a musical instrument said to combine the tones of the organ, clarinet, horn, bassoon and violin. Not to be confused with Youfonidad n a term of abuse used by youf when addressing the male parent, esp when challenging anachronistic notions such as that old age is characterised by dignity and should be surrounded by reverence. See also Youfonimum: righteous abuse such as that addressed to old soak Edina by Absolutely Fabulous daughter Saffi, who is revealed in a Coca-Cola survey to be a role model for youf, on account of her determination to study for a career despite appalling domestic disadvantage.

Hence: youfemism n rhet a figure by which a less distasteful word or phrase is substituted for one more exactly descriptive but more offensive. Most often used in reference to sex, death, excreta or politics. Increasingly characterised by a certain callousness, as in "overprovision of residential homes in the borough" - used last week to justify theclosure of an old people's home by the Toryauthority in Wandsworth and the consequent decision to transfer 48 old peopleto another home which is about to be privatised. A utilitarian tendency to value life when it affords health, pleasure and well-being and to neglect those unfortunate enough to be excluded.

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