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> on 26/7/01 7:32 PM, Richard Zvonar at email@example.com wrote:
>> At 10:38 AM -0700 7/26/01, Bret wrote:
>> If Walkman, and JamMan are offensive, what about Human, Woman, and
>> Mankind? Clearly these are 'man' centric.
> It's a little tricky to evaluate the "sexist content" of some of these
> since usage changes over the ages. "Human" is from the Latin "HVMANVS,"
> in turn derives from "HOMO." HOMO means "human being" as opposed to
> The Latin word for "man" as opposed to "woman" was VIR (as in "virile" or
> So you can justifiably argue both sides of the issue in these cases, but
> sometimes it gets a little silly (as in "herstory" - the "his" bit in
> "history" has nothing to do with the possessive form of "he"). I
> avoid using "hysterical" as misogynistic ("hystera" is Greek for
> try to use (e.g.) "chairperson" or "chair" and avoid "actress,"
> the like, but it's not worth getting too obsessive.
It is extremely fascinating to look at the etymology of words, it gives us
chance to use the precious language to faithfully represent what we really
It is also interesting to note how different cultures add subtle shades of
expression by allowing the meaning of words to change according to context.
To remain on the issue of "the gender of words" it's interesting to see how
in Latin languages (not to mention more complex idioms like Japanese!) not
only most objects have a gender but most of these objects can "change sex"
according to the circumstances. Things like a table or a chair can either
male or female according to the use they are put to; once you grasp the
reasons behind this you have learnt a lot about a culture.
After all it is like using the same musical phrase in different contexts to
change its effect on the listener's perception...
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