Texte de Frances Green

Énoncé

Is there a Kipper in the house?
« I'm living with a Kipper. Some of my friends have them, too. In fact countrywide, I think they are increasing phenomena and it makes you think: was it all worth it – the stress, the tears, even the expense – to end up with a Kipper? What am I talking about? Twenty-somethings who have fledged and flown the nest, only to return for an indefinite period. Home is cheap and it comes as fully-catered accommodation – in fact, home is a comfy hotel. The Kipper rises from bed at the last possible moment, arrives at the breakfast table, where it may or may not speak, and then speeds off to work. Ah yes, we have a working Kipper, but it only stays in adult mode (I presume) through the working day. Once home, Kipper reclines in front of satellite TV or may retire to its en-suite accommodation to watch DVDs until supper. We have suggested to Kipper that help with supper would be appreciated, but the Kipper's lot is an arduous one and the day has been too tiring for it to contemplate such acts. Apparently, Kippers work harder than parents. On at least two nights of the week, though, Kipper is bright-eyed and bushy tailed and able to throw itself into rowing training and circuits – but returns even more tired and hungry to the nest and squawks loudly for food. When we go out to dinner, Kipper comes too, because it can't cook. However, when Kipper goes out for a meal, we are not welcome – olds should stay at home. Many of my friends have Kippers and they notice, too, that, although often in their mid-twenties, they revert to parent-dependent behaviour on returning to the nest. One acquaintance has a Kipper aged 40+, but this is probably a different syndrome because Kippers hadn't been invented in the early Eighties. So what are Kippers? They are "kids invading parents' pockets eroding retirement savings". The Japanese have a more derogatory phrase: parasite singles. It refers to those grown children in their twenties and thirties who are unmarried and still sharing the family home. Rather worryingly, it is estimated that there could be 10 million parasite singles in Japan. Could Britain be following in Japan's footsteps? It appears so, because the UK is estimated to have some seven million adults over the age of 18 still living with their parents. Perhaps even more worryingly for Kipper owners, two million are over 30 years of age and one million approaching 40! The thought of reaching 70 with a pair of Kippers still in the house is too terrible to contemplate. But we won't be alone, because one in four households apparently still has adult children at home. However, it is also depressing for young people. They attend university, get a good degree and then try to enter the employment market. One of two things happens: they can't get a graduate job and so end up waitressing, working in a supermarket, entering data for libraries or working in a call centre, and can't make enough money to rent accomodation and live. Or they obtain a graduate post but find the funds are insufficient to live on. […] Part of the problem with parasite singles is the amount of debt young people are forced to take on at university, coupled with the ever-increasing rise in house prices. So for the moment we are stuck with Kipper – too poor to move out, still trapped in student mode and inflicting her clutter on our house. But we promise not to use the term parasite single – well at least not until she is 40 and still at home. »
Frances Green, The Daily Telegraph, August 10th, 2005

Compréhension
1. 
Describe a typical Kipper's various activities. Use elements from the text to complete the following sentences.
a) In the morning ......
b) During the day ......
c) In the evening ......
d) Twice a week ......
e) Occasionally ......
2. What are the negative characteristics of a typical Kipper?
3. 
a) What are Kippers? Complete the following summary.
The Kipper phenomenon appeared at the end of the ...... century in several countries, notably in ...... and ......
The Kipper phenomenon affects people aged ......, who are usually not ...... but who still live ......
b) Which sentence in the text explains the origin of the word Kipper?
4. There are some advantages in being a Kipper: according to the journalist, what are the two main advantages? Answer in your own words.
5. 
a) What group of people does the journalist represent?
b) How do these people view Kippers? Why?
6. The article mentions the causes of the Kipper phenomenon. What are they? Answer in your own words.
7. 
Which of the following statements best describes the tone of the text?
a) The journalist thinks that the situation is dramatic and puts the blame on young people who don't do enough to become independent.
b) The journalist considers the situation can be difficult for some parents but there is some humour in the way she presents this situation.
c) The journalist is depressed about the situation and clearly wants her daughter to leave home as quickly as possible.
Expression
Traitez les deux sujets.
1. Do you consider that Kippers can be regarded as parasites? (150 - 200 words)
2. The mother of a Kipper writes a letter to a friend of hers expressing her feelings about her child's situation. (150 - 200 words)

Corrigé

Compréhension
1. 
a) In the morning, a kipper "rises from bed at the last possible moment, arrives at the breakfast table, where he may or may not speak, and then speeds off to work."
b) During the day, he is in "adult mode."
c) In the evening, he "reclines in front of satellite TV or may retire to its en-suite accommodation to watch DVDs until supper."
d) Twice a week, "Kipper is bright-eyed and brushy tailed and able to throw himself into rowing training and circuits − but returns even more tired and hungry to the nest and squawks loudly for food."
e) Occasionally, the kipper goes out to dinner with the parents "because it can't cook."
2. There are negative characteristics. A kipper considers the parents' home as a fully catered accommodation, in other words a comfortable free hotel. That's why he doesn't help when it comes to domestic chores and even takes advantage of the situation.
3. 
a) The Kipper phenomenon appeared at the end of the twentieth century in several countries, notably in Japan and in Britain. The Kipper phenomenon affects people aged twenty or thirty something, who are usually not unemployed, but who still live in their parents' home.
b) The sentence that explains the origin of the word Kipper is :
– "So what are Kippers? They are kids invading parents' pocket eroding retirement savings."
4. According to the journalist, the advantages in being a Kipper are :
  • as they live in their parents' home, they are given free lodging;
  • moreover, they do not have to bother about cooking as they are served meals everyday without helping in the kitchen.
5. 
a) The journalist represents the group of parents who are invaded by a Kipper.
b) These people view Kippers as parasites because they take advantage of everything and do not help in any way, moreover they live at the expense of their parents.
6. This phenomenon is due to the difficulty to find a job in accordance with the diploma/degree these people have passed, so quite often they have to accept badly paid or even underpaid jobs. In addition, even when they have a good job, they do not earn enough money to be self-sufficient and to afford their own apartment, because they have to pay debts back and the prices in housing rise all the time.
7.  
The statement which best describes the tone of the text is :
b) The journalist considers the situation can be difficult for some parents but there is some humour in the way she presents this situation.
Expression
1. I don't think that Kippers can be regarded as parasites, because this word is rather derogatory.
Nevertheless, I can understand that some parents call them parasites as they quite often take advantage of the situation. It is quite difficult to understand why they do not take their share of the domestic chores. They are not children any longer and could understand that they may represent a "burden" for their parents who are not as young as they were before and that their help would be welcome.
This is probably the reason why parents quite often resent their adult children living at home. However, we must understand that since the economic situation has become difficult, it is very hard for them to provide for themselves and to stand on their own two feet. They have no choice but to stay at their parents' home.
In her article, we can see that the journalist understands the situation as she takes into account the reasons why her daughter had to resort to coming back to live at her parents' house. To conclude, I would say that if adult children didn't take advantage of the situation so much they wouldn't be regarded as parasites. To avoid it, they should help at home and should also take part in the management of the household instead of behaving like parasites.
2. Expression personnelle. Il faudra présenter le travail sous la forme d'une lettre (date, en-tête, formule de politesse au début et à la fin…) On pourra n'exprimer que des reproches et se plaindre, mais aussi ajouter des éléments qui viendront atténuer l'ensemble et montrer que la faute n'est pas uniquement celle du fils ou de la fille, afin de pondérer le propos.