If age is a mental state, then years don’t tell you how old a person is. Luckily, language is an expression of thought and thought is a reflection of mental state. So you can usually tell how old someone is on the inside; when someone is an ‘old soul’ or ‘never grew up,’ so to speak.
I don’t think there’s any way of discerning a person’s exact mental age from their conversation, but there’s definitely major themes that crop up as people start passing into various stages in their lives. Here we go:
You start talking about the opposite sex.
I’m sure you remember older people talking about the opposite sex back when you weren’t interested. You thought that was something for ‘grown-ups’ to consider. Well guess what? If you’ve started talking about them, you’re a grown up.
Your conversation revolves around your children.
This isn’t to say you talk about nothing but your children, just that their actions become conversation pieces for you. A prerequisite for this is actually having children. My prevention against reaching the mental age of stage 2 is not reproducing. Thankfully, my habits and lack of motivation virtually guarantee a lonely, unloved existence. 😀 Take that Western conception of the good life!
Your conversation revolves around your health problems (worse: bowel movements and vitamins).
I will never get to this point. I refuse. Flat out. As soon as I came up with this list, I have made it a point never to acknowledge that my body operates in any suboptimal way.
Stage 0 is not on this list, but we can assume it applies to children who talk about their playmates, ask questions, or talk about their feelings and thoughts. It’s elemental philosophy which most people lose interest in as their beliefs are hardened by age, but some pursue as a career. ::cough::
I also didn’t mention gossip as this occurs at every age, whether we like it or not. Furthermore, I thought about including work as a major life change, but this is really a ‘what’s going on’ sort of conversation. People that don’t work still talk about school or their hobbies just as much. It’s circumstantial, not sequential like all the other items on this list.
Ironically, this list doesn’t fit me very well at all. I’m an out-of-work philosopher in stage 0 who doesn’t care to talk much about the opposite sex, doesn’t have kids and doesn’t acknowledge that his actions have any effect on his health. If you don’t feel this list applies to you either, consider yourself lucky. And consider yourself warned.