Re: Even more on gender neutrality
The word "monn" existed in Old English, where itI'm not an Old English expert, but I did study the language long enough that, at one point, I could read it well enough to appreciate poetry ("Beowulf" in the original has some wonderful passages, let me tell you). So, I hope you'll excuse these contradictions:
was a gender-neutral pronoun corresponding to "one" as it is used in Modern
English. The word for "man" meaning a masculine human being was "ceorl",
pronounced "churl". The word for a feminine human being was "cwaen", which
became ModE "queen". So, who got the better deal there? Certainly not the
churls. The word "woman" derives from Old E "wifmonn" which meant,
- "monn" was not simply a gender-neutral pronoun. It was widely used for men in particular.
-"ceorl" did not mean "man," but a non-aristocratic man: anything from a poor man to a reasonably prosperous small farmer. Originally, it didn't have the suggestion of "uncouth."
- "wif" was not originally "wife" but a general term for "woman." It survives in "fishwife" and "midwife" in its original meaning.
Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177
"There's a fading beauty talking in riddles,
Rome burns down and everybody fiddles,
But a thousand dollars won't buy an American wife, alas,
There's a thousand years' history in that whiskey glass."
- Elvis Costello, "The Deportee Club"
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Even more on gender neutrality: From: Corecomm
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