“Kiddie” gloves

So we’re watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and one of the characters says something to the effect of, “Things are going to get tougher from here on out; no more kiddie gloves,” and it hits me: some writer out there is a fucking idiot. Whoever wrote that line, please answer me, WTF DO YOU THINK A “KIDDIE” GLOVE IS? HMMM?? Do you think there’s some special kind of glove worn by children? Have you ever heard of that? Is that logical? Ughhh for some reason stuff like this really bugs me, along the lines of “It’s a doggy dog world” and “For all intensive purposes:” malapropisms, though minor internet research says this might be an “eggcorn.” Either way, I find it unacceptable in published content.

The thing that irks me, to be clear, is not that someone might not know the origin or actual meaning of the phrase “kid gloves” (after all, my husband sheepishly informed me that he did not realize “kid gloves” was not a reference to children’s hand-wear). (For those not in the know, “kid gloves” are gloves made from the skin of baby goats and which were generally soft and thin and used in work requiring a delicate touch, as opposed to utilitarian gloves made from a hardier substance designed to protect the hands from rough work – see the logic of phrase?). The thing that irks me is that anyone would actually use the phrase based on an incomplete understanding. As I pointed out above, “kiddie gloves” are not a thing, and anyone who thinks about it for half a second should realize that. It bothers me that someone who has a public platform for telling stories and using language should not be more aware of the words they choose.

Words and phrases have meaning. It’s true that meanings shift over time, and I am definitely not one of these prescriptive linguists who would attempt to enforce arbitrary rules or try to uphold one dialect or another as “the standard” of English, but that doesn’t mean that there are no rules or logic to language, and that anything can mean anything. All languages have a complex and nuanced logic that comprises a mixture of history, metaphor, and instinct, and while I do not expect everyone at all times to treat their word choices with the respect and attention it deserves, I do expect professional writers, during their published speeches, to do so.

Daily Prompt Challenge: Generation

Immediately I thought: “Generation? That’s a meaningful concept to me, positioned as I am in the weird plot between Generations X, Y, and the Millennials.” In truth, I have many thoughts on the subject, and I know I will mouth off on it one of these days, but soooo many people have already done so. (Here’s one article that comes instantly to mind. This one is pretty good, too.) In fact, though I am guilty of placing way too much weight on my position within “the generations,” I think it is seemingly so significant in large part due to how played-up it already is in our culture: the idea that “my generation” is a badge of identity, a marker of time and place that binds you to some people while setting you off from others. So yeah, I buy in, but I don’t think it’s a particularly original topic.

Secondarily I thought: “But wait, what do they mean by ‘generation’? The word has many seemingly-disparate definitions.” I went to dictionary.com to find out just how many. As far as distinct, modern, general definitions go, it listed FOURTEEN. Skimming the list, it was easy to see the evolution of meanings, stemming from the concept of creation, the word “generate.” I love the word “generate,” because it ties directly into that mother-of-many-words root morpheme, “gen-“: meaning something like “origin,” and being the basis of words such as “genus,” “general,” “genre,” “gender,” and so many more. These words have to do with what makes a thing whole, complete, and distinct from other things. If we can zoom out a little bit to focus again on the lexeme “generate” that serves as a foundation to our prompt of the day, I would call your attention to the “action-y” aspect of the word: while “gen” has much to do with categorical properties (what is), “generate” contains the hope for breaking out of those bonds (what will be). To generate is to create something new, and while what is “new” is rarely radically different from its predecessors (leading, as far as human procreation is concerned, to the phrase “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” among many similar idioms), the fact remains that “generate” blurs the line between where we come from and where we’re going. Central to answering the questions, “Who am I? Why am I here?” are the questions, “Where (and when, and whence) do I come from? How much does that predetermine my choices and their impact?” No wonder, then, that we are so preoccupied with the concept of “generation.”