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Letter to the Editor from Joan Triplett

Article Date: 
28 February, 2014 (All day)

Dear Editor,
In response to the letter in the Feb. 7 TMCN regarding referring to our children as “kids,” I can’t help but point out that language is a dynamic medium; many words have multiple, often diversely different meanings, and word meanings change with time and usage.  
www.dictionary.reference.com defines “kid” 1. as “informal. a child or young person,” and 3. as “a young goat.”  “Kid” is also a verb, as in “to kid around,” or to “kid someone.”  
www.thefreedictionary.com defines “kid” as 1. a young goat,” and 3. as “informal a child…a young person.”  Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (mine is 1979) gives “kid” as 1. “a young goat, or occasionally, antelope,” and 6. as “a child, or any young person.”  
“Kid” is so ubiquitous for “child” in today’s English that one may as well accept the change, and lose sleep over something more substantial.  Roll with the punches, if you know what I mean.
If one really wants to stress over word meaning change, how about taking on “gay.”  When I grew up, “gay” meant “happy, joyous, merry.”  Now it exclusively connotes “homosexual.”  This change I am still not completely accommodated to, although the change has roots back as far as the 17th century, and the big change began to occur in the late 1930s (www.dictionary.reference.com).  We do not use “gay” as casually as we used to!
If one wants even more word meaning changes, just google “word meaning changes.”  And how about that word—“google”?  Whoops, that’s not a word meaning change—it’s just a new word, and in the verb form a whole lot easier than saying “Do an Internet search on your computer using the Google search engine.”  Yep, English changes.  Sorry about the “yep.”
John Triplett, 
Mountain Green