[ExI] Rule of Law or of Men?

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Fri Feb 24 13:59:27 UTC 2012

2012/2/24 <natasha at natasha.cc>

> It seems that the wifey-poo was a revamping of the word:
> "The Old English <http://wiki/Old_English> *wifman* meant "female human" (
> *werman* meant "male human". *Man* or *mann* had a gender neutral meaning
> of "human", corresponding to Modern English "one" or "someone". However in
> around 1000AD "man" started to be used more to refer to "male human", and
> in the late 1200s began to inevitably displace and eradicate the original
> word "werman").[1] <#135afa6a20c19cc9_135accbaee202aa0_cite_note-0> The
> medial labial consonants coalesced to create the modern form "woman"; the
> initial element, which meant "female," underwent semantic narrowing to the
> sense of a married woman ("wife")."
> Really weird explanataion ...
Interesting, however. In German, as in Latin and Greek, we have a
comfortably generic, albeit grammaticaly masculin, form (mensch, home,
anthropos, as opposed to mann, vir, aner), but the impersonal "one" is
"man", which is closer to the male form "mann", while the French "on"
derives from the Latin "homo".

In Italian, as in French, the male form itself comes from the generic form
"homo". But it is still not terribly mysoginist to make use of the male
form for generic. Moreover, grammars expressly state that when the gender
is unknown, you should use the masculin form, so that the possessive for
one is "his", not "one's".

Lastly, my native Italian intuitions suggest that the PC English usage of
"his or her" could be considered in my language as unkind to the female
genter, as you should if anything say "her or his", giving precedence to
the ladies. :-)

Stefano Vaj
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