Monthly Archive:: August 2010

The History of the “Dude”

I know a segue when I see one. “Dude” is a magnificent specimen for discussing language change in general, because its meaning has shifted and shimmied a ton in a relatively short period of time.

Originally, back in the 1800s, “dude” referred to a dandy-ish sort of doofus. As the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, “dude” was “a name given in ridicule to a man affecting an exaggerated fastidiousness in dress, speech, and deportment, and very particular about what is æsthetically ‘good form’.”

Later, in the American West, the term came to refer to “a non-westerner or city-dweller who tours or stays in the west of the U.S., esp. one who spends his holidays on a ranch,” and the tourist-attracting, money-making ranches they visited were “dude ranches.”

The World’s Children

Twenty years after the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, multitudes of children across the globe are still suffering from poverty, abuse and disease. Each year, 4 million babies die before they are a month old, 150 million children are engaged in child labor, more than 500 million have been affected by violence and 51 million have fallen so far through the cracks they have not even had their births registered, according to the United Nations.