Ageism: The Underrated Form of Discrimination

People use language to motivate, inspire, persuade, and even to discriminate. Hurtful comments or opinions uttered can offend the targets we give the comments to, even though we may not be aware of the effects they cause as we say them. People from around the world encourage that we stop discriminating against certain races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations. They have started to campaign the abolishment of discrimination from many means, including language. However, discrimination against ages is not discussed as much as other types of discrimination. This certain type of discrimination is called ageism. Ageism, or ageist language if it is done verbally or in writing, is often taken as a prevalent issue. On the contrary, age discrimination can be as serious as other types of discrimination. In fact, ageism occurs even more frequent in our daily lives, from home to workplace.

Ageism can take place almost everywhere: at home, school, even workplace. At home, it happens because of several factors such as to maintain discipline in the family. Parents often say, “I’m your parent” to show that they have more power and their children will listen to them. At times, ageist comments are given to prevent children from questioning parents’ decision. “You’re just a kid” is a common statement that parents tell their kids when asking them to explain their decision. Because ageism is common in family environment, we tend to take it to other environments like school or workplace. Ageism occurring at the workplace indicates stereotyping of ages. This stereotype, according to McCann and Giles (2002, p. 164), leads to ageist attitudes, discourse, and behaviours which are common at the workplace. At the workplace, it can happen to either older or younger employees.

Many people think that ageism only targets older people. As a matter of fact, ageist stereotyping is also directed at younger employees. Not only is ageism done to senior staffs, but it is also directed at junior employees. Ageist discourse can clearly be seen when companies set up age limit in hiring employees. They do not want either too young or too old workers. The age limit specifies that being too young is inexperienced; while being too old is no longer productive. Besides being implemented by companies, ageism happens regularly between employees.

Ageism among colleagues seems to be inevitable. Ageist comments given to older colleagues by juniors implicitly state that the elders are less qualified and productive to work, despite being uttered in humourous ways. For example, Indonesians like to jokingly say, “Mungkin faktor U(sia)” or “It might be the age factor” when one of their senior colleagues forgets to do something. On the other hand, it is also not uncommon that seniors at the workplace implicitly belittle their juniors as ‘incompetent’ or ‘inexperienced’ by saying, “Kamu masih muda, masih harus banyak belajar” or “You’re still so young, there are still many things to learn”. Adolescents are often underrated simply because they have fewer experiences than the seniors, they like to act spontaneously, they do not possess wisdom, and they like to take risks (Irawanto, 2013, p. 201). Both seniors and juniors are not only targeting each other in being ageist; they sometimes discriminate themselves.

It is not unusual to see older or younger employees at the workplace age-discriminate themselves. Ageism towards oneself and towards others is caused by internalised age stereotypes (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2017). There are many contributing factors in self-ageism. First, they self-discriminate themselves because they wish to be compromised by the opposite age. When a junior makes a mistake, he sometimes excuses himself by saying, “I’m still new and have a lot to learn”. In contrast, older employees often excuse themselves from taking the responsibility of something by saying, “I’m too old for this” before handing it over to the juniors. The second factor that might cause self-ageism is confidence. In certain cultures, there are certain stereotypes regarding age. When one decides to do something not supposedly to his age, he is bound by the culture he stays in, which makes him feel guilty if he does it.  Going to a rock concert, for instance, is stereotyped as a ‘youth activity’ in Indonesia. If a middle-aged man wishes to watch a concert, he will reconsider his intention because he might feel insecure that people will judge his wish to be age-inappropriate. Levy at al. (2009) claim that self-ageism might increase morbidity and mortality (in Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2017). Age discrimination towards oneself can even be more serious than that towards others.

To sum up, even though age discrimination occurring on a daily basis can be as serious as other forms of discrimination, people still think little of it. Ageism has similar impacts to racism and sexism. Therefore, we need to prevent the impacts from happening by firstly watching our language.

References

Ayalon, L., & Tesch-Römer, C. (2017). Taking a closer look at ageism: self-and other-directed ageist attitudes and discrimination.

Irawanto, B. (2016). Menggugat Tirani Usia. Jurnal Studi Pemuda2(2), 201-203.

McCann, R., & Giles, H. (2002). Ageism in the workplace: A communication perspective. Ageism: Stereotyping and prejudice against older persons, 163-199.

 

Keywords: ageism, ageist language, ageist comments, discrimination

 

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Ageism – The Underrated Form of Discrimination

Menumbuhkan Rasa Empati melalui Bahasa

Bahasa sering kali menjadi hal yang dianggap remeh. Masyarakat Indonesia sering menganggap bahwa belajar bahasa adalah hal yang mudah, dan menilai bahwa orang yang mengambil jurusan bahasa di bangku kuliah adalah orang yang enggan repot dan hendak lulus dengan cepat. Pada kenyataannya, mempelajari bahasa, terutama bahasa asing, dapat menumbuhkan rasa empati seseorang dan mencegah dirinya menjadi ‘robot’ industrialisasi.

Pada saat seseorang mempelajari bahasa, rasa empati orang tersebut secara tidak langsung juga berkembang. Bahasa merupakan salah satu bagian dari ilmu humaniora. Oleh karena itu, terdapat nilai-nilai humanisme pada bahasa. Mempelajari bahasa tidak hanya memperkaya pengetahuan tata bahasa dan kosakata, melainkan menambah pengetahuan seseorang mengenai budaya dan nilai-nilai lain dari bahasa yang sedang dipelajarinya. Sebagai contoh, saat seseorang mendalami bahasa Inggris, dia akan mengetahui bahwa bahasa Inggris lebih mementingkan gender daripada usia. Berbeda dengan bahasa Indonesia yang memiliki tingkat kesantunan hierarkis, yaitu mengutamakan urutan tingkatan atau jenjang. Kata ‘brother’ dan ‘sister’ yang berarti ‘saudara laki-laki’ dan ‘saudara perempuan’ mengindikasikan bahwa hubungan keluarga dalam bahasa Inggris lebih mengutamakan gender yang dimiliki oleh saudaranya. Sementara dalam bahasa Indonesia, hubungan saudara ditunjukkan secara vertikal pada kata ‘kakak’ dan ‘adik’. Hal ini menjadi nilai yang harus dapat dipahami oleh baik pembelajar bahasa Inggris atau pembelajar bahasa Indonesia, agar dapat menyesuaikan kesantunan yang harus diberikan pada saat mengaplikasikan kata-kata tersebut.

Nilai-nilai yang terkandung dalam bahasa juga dapat mencegah seseorang menjadi korban industrialisasi yang hanya mengikuti perkembangan dan tuntutan zaman tanpa memedulikan sisi kemanusiaan. Tuntutan hidup dan kebutuhan yang terus ada terkadang menjadikan seseorang sebagai mesin uang yang hanya tertarik untuk mencari uang sebanyak-banyaknya sehingga dapat menutupi kebutuhan hidupnya. Agar dapat bertahan hidup dan terus bekerja, mereka merasa harus memperbaiki dirinya dengan mengikuti perkembangan zaman dan teknologi. Akan tetapi, dalam proses tersebut, mereka acap kali melupakan kodrat awal untuk menjadi manusia seutuhnya. Pada dasarnya, manusia merupakan makhluk sosial yang perlu bekerja sama dengan orang lain untuk mencapai tujuannya. Bahasa merupakan alat yang digunakan manusia untuk bekerja sama, berinteraksi, dan mengidentifikasikan diri. Oleh karena itu, setiap insan memerlukan bahasa agar dapat menyelaraskan hidupnya. Bahasa memuat nilai filsafat, sastra, dan seni yang dapat menjadikan orang yang mempelajari bahasa tersebut sebagai manusia seutuhnya. Dengan demikian, bahasa dapat membantu seseorang memenuhi tuntutan zaman dengan tetap menggunakan pikiran dan perasaannya.

Sebagai simpulan, bahasa yang merupakan bagian dari ilmu humaniora memiliki peranan penting dalam membentuk karakter manusia agar dapat menjadi manusia yang memiliki perasaan dan menggunakan pikirannya. Meskipun sering dianggap sebagai hal kecil dalam perkembangan industri saat ini, bahasa masih mempunyai kedudukan tersendiri. Dengan bahasa, manusia dapat mempertahankan kodrat awalnya, yaitu menjadi makhluk yang berakal budi.

When Code-Switching Goes Wrong

The 21st century is the century of digital world. People from all around the world can now easily communicate with each other through computer-mediated communication or CMC. However, a new challenge arises. Those who want to connect with others from the other side of the world through CMC must be able to at least speak the lingua franca, i.e. English. This makes people, whose native language is not English, bilingual. The bilingualism then affects the users’ daily lives; they start to mix or switch languages. Such phenomenon is renown as code-switching or CS. Many people think that switching codes shows intelligence, and that the code switchers are smart and educated. Nevertheless, when people code-switch too often without observing who they are talking to and what the situation is, it actually shows the opposite. They seem to be ignorant and look unintelligent.

Bilinguals who code-switch far too frequently are depicted as ignorant. It shows that the switchers lack knowledge or vocabularies of the other language they are using. It might seem okay at first; but when they code-switch as regularly as they speak, they actually indicate their not-so-good language proficiency of the other code. This is in line with Heredia and Altarriba (2001) who mention that bilinguals tend to compensate their lack of language proficiency by changing words or vocabularies of their second language with their first language vocabularies (p. 165). The lack of language proficiency is exemplified from this illustration: people who speak Indonesian as their main language often use the word ‘upload’ as the term of transferring data to a larger computer system and ‘download’ to refer to copy data from one computer system to another system or disk. Those two terms have actually been translated into Indonesian as ‘unggah’ and ‘unduh’. The two terms have also been lexicographically written in the Great Dictionary of Indonesian Language (KBBI). However, there are not many Indonesians who are familiar with such terms and still opt to use the English terms.

Intellectuality of bilinguals who code-switch can be shown from the way they code-switch. It can be clearly seen from the appropriateness of code-switching. For example, when someone says, “It surprises me kalo ternyata hidup di Malaysia itu murah,” it indicates that that person is aware of grammatical and appropriateness of both English and Indonesian. On the contrary, there are times when code-switch actually shows that the person who does it is unintelligent, and simply wants to show his/her social status as ‘classy’. This is supported by Rihane who says that “speakers tend to use different languages to imply a certain social status or to distinguish themselves from other social classes” (p. 6). People want to boast by switching languages, but there are times when they do not pay attention to the appropriateness of code-switching. For instance, the sentence “Kenapa sih lately people who’s close to me banyak komentarin kalo my skin get dark? Bisa ga sih kalo ngomongnya jangan physic terus?” indicates that the speaker is unaware of the proper use of English language. The speaker does not use suitable Indonesian, either. Even though the speaker may try to show his/her social class, it actually points out his/her flaws in both English and Indonesian. That kind of case is apparently supported by Hammink (2000) who pointed out that people tend to consider code-switching as a less prestigious form, incorrect, poor language, or a consequence of incomplete mastery of the two languages (in Pollard, 2002, p. 3).

All in all, code-switching is a process of altering two languages that can be done either consciously or unconsciously. If the code-switching is used properly at the right time, to the right environment, and with the right purpose, it will not be perilous to the users.

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REFERENCES

Heredia, R. R., & Altarriba, J. (2001). Bilingual Language Mixing: Why Do Bilinguals Code-Switch? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10(5), 164–172. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-8721.00140?journalCode=cdpa

Pollard, S. (2002). The Benefit of Code Switching within a Bilingual Education Program. Honors Project, Paper 2. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/hispstu_honproj/2

Rihane, W. M. (n.d.). Why Do People Code-Switch: A Sociolinguistic Approach. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/2649532/Why_do_People_Code-switch_A_Sociolinguistic_Approach

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Early or Late Marriage

Overview

Birth, marriage, and death are the standard trio of key events in most people’s lives. But only one – marriage – is a matter of choice. The right to exercise that choice was recognised as a principle of law even in Roman times and has long been established in international human rights instruments (Umemoto et al., 2001).

Before we start to discuss early and late marriage, it is better to know the definition of early and late marriage themselves. Early marriage is a marriage performed not only at an early age, but also at a moment when performers of early marriage are not mature enough to take responsibilities. Early marriage can also be defined as an act of marriage that the performers pay little attention to the effects brought about by early marriage to their lives. For instance, performers have several goals to achieve before getting married, but they would not mind if they got married before their goals are attained.

Late marriage, however, is an act of marriage performed at a mature age, not old age. Maturity can be obtained at an earlier age, which is why I do not describe late marriage as marriage at an old age. Late marriage, too, can be defined as marriage that the performers consider things beforehand.

Here in this essay, I would like to discuss about marriage: early and late marriage; and why people choose either early or late marriage along with their reasons.

 

Early Marriage

Since I have previously discussed about the definition of early marriage before, here I am going to discuss about the advantages and disadvantages of early marriage according to some people who perform this kind of marriage, and where early marriage is usually exercised.

One of the advantages of early marriage is when the bride is sent to her in-laws’ house, it is easier for the child-bride to adapt to her husband’s house and therefore have better chances for a happy marriage (Zhang: 2008). Another advantage is that the early-weds can avoid evils such as fornication, rapes, and the like.

People who choose this kind of marriage believe that they will never be ready of marriage, so they choose to force the marriage. They also believe that marriage can even inspire their lives. They will have someone who always stands by their sides and supports them.

Nevertheless, early marriage also have several drawbacks. One of them is the increasing number of cheating and divorce. Performers of early marriage are definitely at such a young and immature age when they get married. Some of them have not even come to pubertal phase. When they do, they will find other opposite sex than their spouses. Why other person? Because they have lived with their spouses long enough and they feel the attack of boredom of their spouses.

The disadvantages of early marriage are mostly encountered by girls. They are forced to be married at such an early age, they have not even known their rights. They cannot differentiate which one is good for them and which one is bad. Also, some people think that girls forced to be married early are the victims of child’s exploitation.

What makes early marriage worse for girls is the early pregnancy and early maternity. Early pregnancy will affect their health –they still have inadequate wombs to bear a child. Also, by the time the girls reach their twenties, they already look close to forty years of age due to multiple pregnancies, household work and inadequate nutrition which take their toll on them (Zhang: 2008).

Countries that apply this kind of marriage are some Asian countries, Middle-East countries, and some African countries. Why do I say some Asian countries? Because in this modern age, influenced by globalisation, many parts of Asian countries do not believe in early marriage. In Indonesia, for example, there are still many parts which people still apply this kind of marriage. But there are definitely some of them who are opposed to this kind of marriage, especially those who live in big cities such as Jakarta, Bandung, Medan, Surabaya, and Denpasar.

In Middle-East countries, they believe marriage to be a prevention of fornication. That is why there are still many parents who force their children to be married at a young age, although there are also some parents who do not force their children to be married early. Those parents who do not apply early marriage to their children are mostly open-minded, while those who still apply it are conservative.

In Africa, early marriage is generally more prevalent in Central and West Africa – affecting 40 per cent and 49 per cent respectively of girls under 19 – compared to 27 per cent in East Africa and 20 per cent in North and Southern Africa. Many of these young brides are second or third wives in polygamous households (Umemoto et al: 2001). However, some countries in Africa have started to apply late marriage after the campaign against HIV/AIDS.

 

Late Marriage

Montaigne says in his Essays, that “a good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.” Such humour is true. She does not see his faults and he is spared her sharp tongue. Unfortunately, for the state of marriage for many people, such knowledge comes too late. That is why late marriage is more desirable. Late can mean several things but here I ascribe to the view meaning maturity and not marriage at an old age.

Similar to early marriage, late marriage also has several benefits and drawbacks. As I mentioned before, late marriage is a marriage where the performers are mature enough to take responsibilities, whether they are old or even still young. One of the advantages of marriage at a mature age is the performers have known themselves very well. They are well-educated about married lives. They will also live their marriage in reality, not a dream.

Another benefit is the performers can reach their goals, aims, or aspirations before they step onto the phase of marriage. For females, they will have already transformed from girls to women, which is very beneficial for them. If they plan to bear a child, this is the perfect time, since their wombs are strong and healthy enough to keep an embryo within.

The other advantage of late marriage is the prevention of cheating and divorce. The performers of late marriage usually have known their partners well before they are married. They have encountered and solved their problems with their partners, so they will be accustomed to solving things together when they are married.

Nonetheless, everything has its own benefits and disadvantages. Late marriage, too, have several disadvantages. In my own opinion, especially for women who exercise late marriage, they have reached their on-the-edge age when they are married, which troubles them in giving birth. Not to mention, women have a limited fertility phase; they will encounter menopause.

Late marriage can also trigger free sex. People who apply this principle sometimes choose to live together with their partners. If they meet confrontation against each other, it will lead to separation. This separation is similar to divorce in marriage, but they do not have to file it to the court.

People who apply this marriage are those who want to reach their aspirations before they are married. There are many people who have goals to achieve while they are still single, and some of them fear that marriage will hamper their achieving the goals.

Countries that apply this kind of marriage are mostly European and American countries. They believe that marriage is sacred, and should be struggled. In Europe, when a European man states he wants to get married, this means he is serious with it. In America, although teenage pregnancies are increasing, they do not get married because they know they are not mature enough for marriage.

To sum up, both early and late marriage have benefits and disadvantages. It is just a matter of how people see them from their points of views. Which marriage would you choose?

 

References

Umemoto et al. 2001. Early Marriage – Child Spouses. Italy: UNICEF.

Zhang, J. 2008. Early Marriage – The Benefits and Disadvantages. From http://ezinearticles.com/?Early-Marriage—The-Benefits-And-Disadvantages&id=1016812 (accessed: 10 April 2012, 10:00 a.m.)

Building up Confidence in Speaking English

As EFL learners, have you ever felt unconfident to speak English? Perhaps you always feel unconfident every time you want to speak English. In class discussions, you always feel uneasy to deliver your idea due to your limited vocabularies. Or perhaps when you want to speak to an English native speaker, you got stuck in vocabularies and you over think about the grammar.

Well, in this post, I want to share my own experiences about how to build up your confidence in speaking English.

1. Talk to yourself in English. If there’s no one at your home or no friends to speak English to, you can try to speak English to yourself. You can do it in front of a bright shiny thing called mirror, but you can also do it anywhere and anytime. I have proven this method as the most effective method in building your confidence to speak English.

2. Mimic/imitate English native speakers speaking from movies, radios, televisions, etc. You can imitate the way the native speakers of English speaking; the intonation, the sentence stress, heck you can even get new vocabularies and idioms plus you’ll know how to make questions and express some expressions by watching/listening to those people. I can even learn to speak English in different accents (American, Black American, British, even French, Russian and Indian!) from movies!

3. Do not pay too much attention to your grammar. Most EFL learners got stuck in grammar when they try to speak English. I think you don’t really need to pay attention to your (perhaps) poor grammar. I mean, when you speak to English native speakers, they know that you’re not an English native. They know you are learning English, so they definitely will understand your situation and they won’t judge you.  So relax!

4. When you got stuck in vocabularies, you can use the synonym or the description of the vocabulary you want to say. For example, you don’t know the verb ‘resemble’, you can change it using the more common one ‘look like’.

5. Do not speak fast. If you still have a doubt that you’ll fail to speak, you may slow your speaking tempo down. If you speak fast and you’re stuck, people will notice that you’re stuck. So, speak slowly. By speaking slowly, you can also make a concept before saying it.

6. Do not over think what you’re going to say. If you over think what you’re going to say when someone talks to you, it will take time and your speaking partner will wait for you to respond. Be careful! They might think that you’re a retarded 😀 😀

So, that was some tips I could give you to build up your confidence to speak English based on my own experiences. I for one can’t speak English that fluently, but at least I’m confident to do it. I don’t know if I’m confident, or if I’m too confident??? =))