Monday, August 19, 2019

The Name Game Redux

I'll tell you something.

How would you like to be stuck with a nickname all your life that really annoyed you?

Or, what's worse, how would you like to be labeled with a nickname that was cute and acceptable at first, but after you grew out of it, the nickname became silly? However, for some reason -- probably social -- it then became fashionable to make fun of all people with that nickname, and your annoyance turned to anger whenever you heard it?

Are you listening to me, Fatso?

Can you hear me out there, Four-Eyes?

How about you? Do you agree with me, Flatchested?

Now, a nickname is literally an additional name (AN EKENAME, from Middle English EKE addition + NAME), usually descriptive, according to the dictionary. Or, it can be CONTRAdescriptive, according to me. One of my cousins was the youngest and smallest of four boys, and his father always called him "Heavy" all his life. Cute joke at first, and then annoying, and finally, to a grown man, enough to make him angry.

So, what does all this have to do with Baby Boomers, the cute, then annoying and, finally anger-inducing nickname for a whole generation? Well, the first Baby Boomers were born in 1946. Do you think President Clinton, the first Baby Boomer president, enjoyed being called a Baby?

However, that generation born after World War II caused a powerful change in society. TIME magazine might have been a little bit sarcastic, as most publications are when they mention Baby Boomers, but it once said [Baby Boomers'] "wonder years were blithe and prosperous; they invented sex, discovered candor and stopped an immoral war."

Way to go, Boomers!

A generation is the average time between parents and children, usually considered to be 18 to 20 years. And there has to be tremendous overlap, especially when you consider that people born in 1964 can rightfully, cutely, annoyingly, or angrily be called Baby Boomers.

I want to change that, partly because the term Baby Boomer has always had such a negative connotation, and partly because a "generation" is so relative. (Pun intended)

If we need to have a name for an entire generation, and if a generation runs about 20 years, why don't we nail down exactly when every generation starts and ends, eliminate the pejorative names, and fix it by only when they were born every 20 years, century by century?

For example, the Baby Boomer generation would be rounded off to those people born between 1940 and 1959, in order to keep the numbers to five generations every century. So, what do we call them? Nothing relative, mind you, nothing physical, and definitely nothing pejorative. Something strictly numerical would be best and easiest.

Twenty years is also called a "score," made famous by Abe Lincoln, and those people born from 1900 to 1919 could be called "Firstscores," or "Firsters," for short. Those born from 1920 to 1939 would be "Twenty-scores," or "Twentiers." Those born from 1940 to 1959 (the Baby Boomers) would be "Fortyscores," or "Fortiers." Those born from 1960 to 1979 (the Generation X generation) would be "Sixty-scores," or "Sixtiers." And, finally, those born from 1980 to 1999 (Millennials) would be "Eightyscores," or "Eightiers."

Then, those people born from 2000 to 2019 would be "Firsters" again, and I doubt there will be any confusion between a Firster born in 1901 and a Firster born in 2001.

A name that can be used for a group as well as for an individual of that group is very convenient. The Beatles was a terrific name, because "a Beatle" was also convenient for Paul McCartney. The Who was not a terrific name, because you stumble when you try to say "Pete Townshend was a Who."

Likewise, Baby Boomers is somewhat good for a generation, although usually pejorative and ridiculously anachronistic, but Generation X is lousy. "She is an X" or "She is a Generation Xer" just doesn't make it.

But now we can say, "Sixtiers were jealous of all the attention and advantages that the Fortiers got, and they all wanted some, too." And we can also say, "Everybody likes to blame the Fortiers, the most powerful generation in history, for all the world's problems."

There. That's my present to you. "Happy New Year to all, and to all Firsters, Twentiers, Fortiers, Sixtiers, and Eightiers, good night."

And can't we stop the stereotypical name-calling, all you weasel politicians out there?


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