Monday, September 26, 2011

Gender Linguistics

I went into a restroom that had one stall.  On the door, it said "men."  Wouldn't it have made more sense to say "man?"  I mean, at that point, it's not a men's room, it's a man's room.

That got me thinking....  One = man.  Many = men.  So why isn't it "meny?"  It sounds that way.  It should be spelled that way.

Off on a slight tangent, I think I know why there's such a blowback against the idea of gay marriage.  I think the average civilian is OK with two women together, except for the idea that two women are now out of circulation.  But two men....  That sounds too gay, and gay has an anti-macho connotation.

My solution?  Change one letter.  Call it "guy marriage."  Now it sounds like the kind of thing where the ceremony would be held in a mancave, and they'd go out camping instead of having a honeymoon.

And on another tangent... can women be testy?  Or sent to a penal colony, or a penitentiary?  Can men get hysterical?

I bet if I took the time to look it up, I'd find out that the word roots aren't what I think they are, but it's more fun not to.

Many years ago, I was a docent at the Bronx zoo.  During training, the difference between altricial (animals that are born needing a parent's care) and  precocial (animals that are ready to run from birth) was explained.  One of the other trainees said "that makes sense.  'Altricial' is from 'altruistic' where someone would need to care for another.  And 'precocial' is from 'precocious', so they'd be ahead of the other animals and ready to run or feed themselves."  I thought that made sense.  So I went home and pulled out the dictionary (no internet yet) and... she was completely wrong.  I considered straightening her out the next week, but I wouldn't remember who she was (I've explained this before).  Besides, I've never forgotten when altricial and precocial mean.  I haven't needed it much, but still.

1 comment:

  1. "Penal" and "penitentiary" are from the Latin "poena" meaning punishment. But "hysteria" was, indeed, a word only applied to women at one time, coming as it does from the Greek "hystera" or uterus (hence, "hysterectomy").


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