Seniors, Older People, the Elderly, Oldies, and Old People: What Language Reveals about Stereotypes of Ageing in Australia

Keith Allan, Reka Agnes Benczes, Kate Burridge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


An online survey of 654 Australians found that the NP seniors is associated with positive personal characteristics of health and well-being such as ‘like to travel’, ‘lead an involved and active life’, ‘are vibrant and full of purpose’. Older people is also associated with positive characteristics, but somewhat less so than seniors and more socially (other) oriented. Older people are seen to ‘benefit the workforce through their experience’, ‘have wisdom and can always be turned to for advice’, ‘play an important role in their extended family’s life’. By contrast, the characteristics of those typically referred to by the elderly are negative in that the referents are incompetent or impose a burden on society, cf. ‘are frail and fall more often’, ‘are often victims of mental and physical abuse’, ‘are unable to look after themselves and depend on others for help’. The referents of old people and oldies have no particular set of characteristics assigned to them; perhaps that is why they only figure in the one (negative) characteristic ‘are tight-fisted with money’ that itself is not strongly associated with any one of the five NPs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophical Pragmatics.
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology
EditorsFabrizio Macagno, Alessandro Capone
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783030566968
ISBN (Print)9783030566951
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
ISSN (Print)2214-3807
ISSN (Electronic)2214-3815


  • Australian English
  • Ageing
  • Reference sets
  • Stereotypes
  • Typical denotatum

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