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Posted: Wednesday 5 April, 2017 at 11:26 AM

Why do we refer to our children as kids?

By: Stanford Conway,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – IT is widely believed that the American culture has strongly influenced the eating habits, spelling of certain words and changes in the meaning of some of them, as well as trends in apparel of many citizens in the Anglophone Caribbean.


    I had first thought of penning an article entitled “The effects of American culture on the Caribbean Region”, but a recent Facebook post by one Terresa Sunshine McCall has prompted me to deal only with one aspect of the American culture that pervades our society.

    Expressing her personal conviction, Ms. McCall wrote: “Unless a goat, you SHOULD NOT refer to your offspring as ‘kids’”. 

    Like Ms. McCall, it is my firm belief that humans shout desist from doing so, but a number of responders to her post have disagreed with this position taken on the word ‘kids’.

    One respondent said: “It’s not that serious. I think is a cultural thing for us and shouldn’t be interpreted for what it is no.”
    In response, Ms. McCall said: “Cultural thing? I doubt this ‘cultural thing’ originated here. It is quite possible it was adopted from the US (of course I could be wrong). Yes I agree it might not be that serious but the above status is how I feel about it.”

    The said respondent wrote: “It is not that serious because we are not referring to our children as goats. There are far worse names that people call their children than kid.”

    The debate continued with another respondent saying: “It’s a language thing. Words change meaning and context all the time.” 

    Another individual said: “Language evolves” and this was supported by a male who made reference to marine life, stating that “Certainly does. At some point in my lifetime, we use to say ‘fishes’; today we say ‘fish’.”

    While I had observed that only one respondent was in agreement with Ms. McCall’s conviction, the prognosis of the debate is that the others are convinced that there is no harm in referring to children as kids. And this perception will be common among the younger and future generations if something is not urgently done to emphasise that humans DNA is different to that of goats and other animals.

    I do agree that the meaning and context of some words do change, but if the word kid had contextually changed to also mean the offspring of humans, why wasn’t there a change in the meaning of the word goat?

    Like goats, donkeys, lions, sheep, dogs, pigs, cats and elephants also suckle their young, so why don’t we refer to our children as foals, cubs, lambs, pups, piglets, kittens or calves, respectively?

    It is widely known that the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is a country of God-fearing people, and evidence of this belief can be witnessed at most, if not all, social and political events where they would not commence without the invocation of the Lord’s blessing.

    It is therefore from this perspective that I spoke with a number of senior citizens who all advised that I research the Holy Bible to find out what is written about children and kids.

    The first reference to children and from whom they cometh was found in Psalm 127:3.

    “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” And the second was in Isaiah 49:15, which says: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

    Neither Psalm nor Isaiah referred to the offspring of a woman as kids.

    Another reference in the Holy Bible (King James Version) was found at Matthew 18:1-5: “1At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”

    The Holy Bible however refers to the offspring of goats as kids.

    Genesis 38:17 of the English Revised Version says: “And he said, I will send thee a kid of the goats from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?”

    As earlier mentioned, the American culture has a very strong influence on citizens in the Anglophone Caribbean and this has been reinforced by the mass media. But there is correlation of the English Language between the British and Americans from the Biblical perspective, even though there are changes in the spelling, meaning and pronunciation of numerous words in the Merriman-Webster Dictionary, which started in 1828 by Noah Webster. 

    In the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible, Genesis 38:17 also says: “And he said, I will send thee a kid of the goats from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?”

    On the lighter side, I have decided to provide a hypothetical situation to learn how women who refer to their children as kids would react.

    One Friday afternoon, for some unknown reason, a woman wanted to speak to the father of her children. During her search for him, she observed that he was imbibing alcoholic beverages with his friends in an open-air bar. 

    While standing on the roadway in front of the bar, she called out to him but could not have gotten his attention. However, one of his friends heard the woman and while looking enquiringly at her, she point in the direction of her children’s father. The friend then turned to him and said: “Hey Robbie, look a woman calling you. Who is she?” In response and above the blaring music, Robbie said: “Oh, that is my goat...she is the mother of my kids.”

    Those at the same table with Robbie started laughing and one of them bellowed: “Hey, fellows look Robbie’s goat come to take him to his pen”; a jocular statement that evoked more laughter among those within earshot. 

    If you were the mother of Robbie’s children, what would have been your reaction?

    Like death, change is inevitable, but as said by Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Therefore, anecdotally speaking, while some changes are good and may be beneficial to a community, one should take time out to research and study them rather than to passively accept and move along with them.

    What are your views on this rapidly growing cultural issue?
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