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YOUTH & OLD AGE

Text for dictation:

Youth is associated with innocence, beauty, good health, energy, idealism, curiosity, immaturity, inexperience and rebellion. Old age often implies experience, wisdom, fatigue, failing health and conservatism. For some people it is a time of fulfilment and contentment; for others it may involve cynicism and bitterness. It is sometimes associated with senility when people are forgetful or easily confused.

The physical differences between the young and the elderly are obvious. The average age of competitors in the World Cup or the Olympic Games is likely to be under 35. Medical records show that pensioners require more health treatments than other age-groups.

However, the descriptions of character relate more closely to fiction than to actuality. The contrast between the innocence of youth and the experience of adulthood is established both in William Blake's poetry and William Shakespeare's plays. Shakespeare's young lovers are much too innocent and inexperienced to engage in vandalism, joy-riding or drug-trafficking, yet magistrates in Britain today are asking for tougher sentencing powers to combat juvenile crime. Many young teenagers are now experienced offenders.

The notion of youth being rebellious could possibly date from the 1960s when there were many student protests in Western Europe and the U.S.A. More recently, there have been big student demonstrations in China and South Korea. Yet in many other countries, young people are careful to observe the status quo. Respect for elders still seems to be more prevalent in Asia and the Middle East than in Western Europe and the U.S.A. where the average age of political leaders seems to have fallen.