"How old are you?"
It's a simple question, and there's usually a simple answer: 'sixteen years
old', 'twenty years old', 'fifty-five', etc. But if someone is described as
'young' or 'middle-aged' or 'old', then how old are they? It's difficult to know
because these words have different meanings for different people.
Except for the word teenager,
which describes young men whose age are between thirteen and nineteen (i.e. in
the English words which describe ages syllable 'teen' is present), other words
which describe age are not exact. When, for example, does a baby stop being
called a baby and become a young child?
When does a boy become a young
man and a little girl become a young woman? At what age does middle age begin?
When do you call someone elderly and not simply old? At what age does someone
become an adult? In some countries, like Britain, France, and the United
States, it is when the government says a person is old enough to vote. Is that
really the difference between a child and an adult?
The answers to these questions
partly depend on how old you are. There is a saying that old age is always ten
years older than yourself. If you are a youth of fifteen then you think someone
of twenty-five is old. At thirty, forty seems old. If you are seventy, then you
probably think someone of eighty is old.
A recent survey showed that
there was some truth in the old saying. People were asked, "When is middle
age?" Those in their early twenties usually answered, "Between
thirty-five and fifty", and people in their thirties answered,
"Between forty-five and sixty".