You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 04, 2016, 04:23:13 PM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'  (Read 628 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« on: July 23, 2012, 08:53:43 AM »
Okay, here's a small English language related question:

What is the age at which it's no longer appropriate to call women 'girls', or men 'boys'? For example: let's say you have a 21-year-old male superhero - would it still be considered okay for him to be called Something-Boy, or would it raise some eyebrows?

Similarly, at what age wouldn't it be appropriate to call a group of people 'kids'? I've heard a phrase 'college kids' being used in, say, movies - so, 22-year-old people are still considered kids by English speakers?

Offline gaggedLouise

  • Quim Queen | Collaborative juicy writer
  • Champion
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Location: Scandinavia
  • Gender: Female
  • Bound, gagged and unarmed but still dangerous.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2012, 09:21:20 AM »
I think girls (in English) is used in a looser, wider sense age-wise than "boys". A thirty-year old man is never a boy (except within a family context), it would be insulting to call him that. Even at twenty-five really. But a forty-year old woman can still talk casually about "me and my girls" (best female friends) and that's quite acceptable. Madonna still refers to herself as a girl at 53 - girl has become a word carrying (to many people, me too) an aura of empowerment.

In my own tongue (Swedish) there's an interesting parallel. Tjej (a slang word for "young girl, gal" originally from gypsy language) became popular with second-wave feminism and pop culture around 1970 and really became a widely used casual word for "woman, spunky, sexy or confident girl". Over time it's pretty much lost any definite age connotation: a woman on the verge of retirement age can refer to herself or her buddies as tjej/er. It sort of denotes attitude, feeling young in any sense. Dam (lady) or tant (´middle-aged/old, perhaps staid and slightly fussy woman) have none of those empowering overtones. Before the sixties they were the regular words for referring to a married woman, or (with dam) the female gender as a class in an athletics contest and so on.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 09:26:27 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2012, 09:36:11 AM »
With regards to the latter, 'kids' is often used to refer to a group that is a) younger than the speaker, or b) acting juvenile (sometimes in an affectionate manner:  'Have fun, you crazy kids,' can and has been applied to an older couple getting all fuss-and-bothered about a special night out.)

In a similar manner, a woman of any age might say her husband (also of any age) is going 'out with the boys', or that she is having a 'girls' night out'.  This can be used in an insulting manner (as GL said), but if it's referring to a group, it's more acceptable.  Also, see the terms 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend', which are still used regardless of age, when people don't want to say 'significant other' or 'S.O.'  A lot of it is tonal and situational, as well.  the word 'boy', used in place of a name is insulting, even more if delivered in a clipped, imperious tone, and I'd be willing to call it 'fighting words' if the addressee is of non-Caucasian descent.

As far as the superhero angle goes, sidekicks are more often to keep the 'boy' tag a bit longer, especially if they are part of a 'mentor/student' sort of team (Robin, the Boy Wonder and Aqualad come to mind), but once they hit solo, it's more common to see them lose that (Nightwing).

Offline Shjade

Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2012, 09:58:12 AM »
A lot of it is tonal and situational, as well.  the word 'boy', used in place of a name is insulting, even more if delivered in a clipped, imperious tone, and I'd be willing to call it 'fighting words' if the addressee is of non-Caucasian descent.

"Son" often has similar effects if you're not actually talking to your son. I don't think I've ever heard someone use daughter that way though. Hunh.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2012, 10:16:45 AM »
Thank you all for the input so far :)

So... Let's take this male superhero. He's 21 and calls himself, say... Hurricane Boy. Sensible or not?

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2012, 10:37:52 AM »
Solo act at 21, going by most 21-year-olds I've encountered, he's more likely to call himself 'Hurricane'.  He's at the point where (as a hero) he's looking to be taken seriously.  If the media is naming him, they might use 'Hurricane Boy' until a statement from the actual hero comes out.

Mid teens, he might still be using 'Hurricane Boy,' or if he's partnered with 'Lightning Man' (or something like that).  He's still likely to be chafing against 'boy' by 21, and poking his mentor to update his title.

On this note, there's a move out there called 'Sky High' - It's kind of like all those brat-pack movies we had in the '80s only for superheroes.  Son of two powerful heroes is a late-bloomer to his powers, and gets stuck in 'Hero Support' (or sidekicks) classes.  There's a character who teaches the 'Hero Support' classes who used to be a sidekick to the kid's father - and is still known as 'All-American Boy'.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

  • Time flies like an arrow ~ Fruit flies like a banana ~ Elliquiy's Fair-E Godmother
  • Dame
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2009
  • Location: Faeleacanvald ~ The Steeler Nation ~ Home of Lord Stanley's Cup 2016 ~ She won't stay throwed! ~ 48\22-5\1\11-5\7
  • Gender: Female
  • Perpetual Notion Machine ~ 'What if...?'
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2012, 12:41:32 PM »
One thing to keep in mind with the female gender is that some prefer young women or women over girl(s).  There is a perception depending on who is using the term to see girl as belittling or disrespectful.  I've seen women become quite indignant at being called girl(s).  Again, a lot depends on the context and attitude of the speaker.

Offline gaggedLouise

  • Quim Queen | Collaborative juicy writer
  • Champion
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Location: Scandinavia
  • Gender: Female
  • Bound, gagged and unarmed but still dangerous.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2012, 12:54:48 PM »
One thing to keep in mind with the female gender is that some prefer young women or women over girl(s).  There is a perception depending on who is using the term to see girl as belittling or disrespectful.  I've seen women become quite indignant at being called girl(s).  Again, a lot depends on the context and attitude of the speaker.
Absolutely, no one would use fille (French), pige (Danish) or flicka (Swedish; all three words mean "girl, young woman up to about twenty") for a grown, mature woman. Except if there's an overt reference to her being someone's daughter - because all three words also mean daughter
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 12:56:40 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline 1Midnightdream

Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2012, 03:54:50 PM »
Absolutely, no one would use fille (French), pige (Danish) or flicka (Swedish; all three words mean "girl, young woman up to about twenty") for a grown, mature woman. Except if there's an overt reference to her being someone's daughter - because all three words also mean daughter

I don't know about that for the french part. I use fille all the time when talking about women in french, or gars for men. It seem to be a lot more widespread than femme or homme, respectively.

Offline gaggedLouise

  • Quim Queen | Collaborative juicy writer
  • Champion
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Location: Scandinavia
  • Gender: Female
  • Bound, gagged and unarmed but still dangerous.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2012, 04:33:56 PM »
I don't know about that for the french part. I use fille all the time when talking about women in french, or gars for men. It seem to be a lot more widespread than femme or homme, respectively.

Not sure if that goes for France or French in general, you're Canadian aren't you? and Canadian French has its own nuances and idioms of course. Also, habits can differ a good deal between people of different age and class, or between town and country. From my own trips to france and watching French tv, reading and so on homme and femme still seem standard. I admit that written language and spoken/slang are not always the same thing.

I was kind of pointing at changes in value, or in how a word is used and considered good money, changes or rifts that go across the board in a country or a language - using "boy" in reference to a grown and mature man and outside of any chummy or family context really doesn't work in English, it's just as denigrating as advicing a guy in front of other people that "you better tie your shoe laces so you don't stumble" (even if the bloke should, for the moment, be having a shoe string hanging loose you just don't do that). If the "boy" is a non-white and the person addressing him is caucasian, it's still worse, as Oniya was on to. In the same way, some ordinary words for "girl" in a bunch of languages are pretty closely tied to an age class, and others (girl in English, tjej in Swedish) have lost the strict linkup to low age, to growing up; they have gone generic.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 04:52:21 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline kylie

  • Bratty Princess of Twisty, Creeping Secrets. Frilly | Fussy | Framed | Dreamy | Glam | Risky | Sporty | Rapt | Tease | Ironic | Shadowed | Struggling | Whispery | Bespelled
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2005
  • Location: Somewhere in the future.
  • Darkly sweet femme for rich & insidious scenarios.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Language question: 'girl', 'boy', 'kids'
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 09:25:14 PM »
     Some of this can also be regional differences.  It's more common for guys under 40 (??) to be called "young man" by strangers in the South of older ages, than in the Northern US.  I would imagine it's also somewhat more common for females to be called "girl" at higher ages than they might elsewhere -- although I might be stretching it. 

     I agree about the group boundary play thing.  "Boys" and "girls" often indicate either organizational membership or intimacy.  It's a lot of claim on familiarity.  Or it may be said sometimes about activities that are thought to be very commonly known to everybody - "the girls' room" as opposed to "boys' room" when speaking of bathrooms.  For that matter, it can also be used a lot when people think the primary difference involved really has to do with body type/biology.  But it's used a lot for gendered things too, even where specific shapes aren't really important.

    Some people are offended by strangers using it, some think it's cute or takes the edge off whereas "men" or "women" can be very formal and bureaucratic. 
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 09:26:49 PM by kylie »