Nursery/Reception and Pupil/Student {lowered from: University / College / School]

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 27 06:33:20 UTC 2010

When I was in the first grade, one day, the teacher brought a large
doll to class and referred to it jokingly as "a new _pupil_." I hadn't
heard that word before, so I decided that the teacher had
mispronounced "people," in its turn a tip of the slung for "person."

Whew! For a second, there, I didn't know WTF she was talking about!


On Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 10:09 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Nursery/Reception and Pupil/Student {lowered from: University
>              / College / School]
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 1/22/2010 06:26 AM, Damien Hall wrote:
>>One or two replies to what people said yesterday:
>>... I believe it's true that in law here children
>>have to be educated from the beginning of the term after their fourth
>>birthday (certainly, you enter the system at age 4). Common names for the
>>first two years of schooling seem to be 'Nursery (class)' (you may of
>>course not do a whole year of that if you are born late in the school year)
>>and then 'Reception'
> I'm disappointed that it's not "Lower Nursery" and "Upper Nursery".
>>- There's also a BrE split in usage for the person in education before 18
>>and after it. Where the dividing-line is is fuzzy but, essentially, the
>>only unambiguous meaning of 'student' is someone in education over 18. For
>>people under 18 (people 'at school' in the BrE sense), 'pupil' can be used.
>>Schools may choose to refer to the older children there (say from 11 on up)
>>as 'students', in order to show them respect by using a less juvenile term,
>>but it would sound strange (to me at least) to refer to anyone under 11 as
>>a 'student'. Those are always 'pupils'.
> In other words, schoolchildren under 18 are insufficiently formed to
> learn on their own (student: 1. A person who is engaged in or
> addicted to study), but have to be directed by others (pupil: 2. a. A
> person who is being taught by another).  But some schools have
> lowered the age of respect to 11.  :-)
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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