I was just thinking about some of the changes in language that have occurred over the years, with the introduction of political correctness, and the modifications of words like ‘gay’. Words that you can’t use in the same way because they now have another significance. On the other hand, words that used to be frowned upon seem to be used more and more…
It’s very wrong to call someone stupid now, well it probably always has been, its not a very nice word. But people did, quite freely, both in jest and out of spite. Particularly among children. This led my thoughts to bringing up a child, especially when teaching the difference between good and bad behaviour; how to distinguish right from wrong.
I was reminded of the TV Supernanny, that real-life Mary Poppins stroke Nanny McPhee, who would freely advocate time-out on the ‘Naughty Step’ in the face of other, more violent, old-fashioned, frankly Victorian methods of correction.
Now to my mind, ‘naughty’ is a word that says what it’s supposed to say. It’s hard to think of another word to match it. There’s ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ I suppose, but they are a bit harsh. I’m not saying I make a regular habit of using the word naughty. In fact, I hardly use it at all. But imagine calling a tiny little toddler ‘evil’ or ‘wicked’. Well, you just wouldn’t, would you? Unless it it happened to be Damian from the Omen.
How would “Charlie! That’s Bad! You are Evil. Go and sit on the Wicked Step for a few minutes!” work? Or, “Sallie, come on now. You are being Bad.”?
Even from the most loving of parents and the gentlest of grandparents it would seem a bit full-on. What would be the lesson learnt from that?
Yet the use of the word ‘naughty’ seems to be discouraged, particularly in schools. Used prudently, what better word could there be for a quick reminder of the sort of behaviour to be discouraged at an early age?
In a Utopia, there would be no such word and no need for one. But, in the here and now, in my opinion, used occasionally and fittingly, the word can surely do more good than harm.