Up to a point that is correct. In Anglo-Saxon "man" meant an adult
human; "wifman" meant a female one; "werman" meant a male one. But over
centuries the male and the general merged. No one uses "werman" today,
except in "werewolf." So, as in many cases, the male became the
presumed general term. If you look in the OED, you will see that for
the Anglo-Saxon term "man" the primary meaning is adult human but for
the modern term "man" the primary meaning is adult male excluding
females. The use of the male term for all humans was codified when
grammar was being codified in the 17th and 18th century, so it was
claimed to be "correct." All the grammarians were male and seemed
Thus one word is to mean exactly opposite things: humans including
female and humans excluding female. That is why it has been
conveniently used to mean whichever was useful at the time. Hence it
could be used legally without including women, and it was.
No doubt if adult males were all called "werman," and "man" meant only
females, and "all men are created equal" did not include "wermen," we
would indeed have the reverse discrimation, but then they aren't and it
doesn't and we don't.
>>> Tabitha Arnesen <[log in to unmask]> 07/11/07 2:49 PM >>>
I though man originally person? Although i did get
that from this:
I dont know how accurate it is! i usually take it as
--- Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> It is a cognate because English was originally a
> Germanic language and
> it is the same term in both. It did not appear in
> English by accident
> and it was not borrowed; it is just the Anglo-Saxon
> term. In
> Anglo-Saxon "man" did mean "adult human." Now its
> primary meaning is
> "adult male." Check the OED.
> And it is not "das Mann"; it is "der Mann" or it is
> "man" if you mean
> the impersonal pronoun. Gender is often arbitrary
> in German but
> sometimes it is connected. In English the word
> "man" has been
> historically used however it was most convenient.
> No one says "my
> sister is a lovely man." And "all men are created
> equal" did not mean
> women could vote or own property.
> It doesn't matter if you buy it or not; it is in the
> language, not in
> you. Gender does not refer just to words in
> languages that have
> gendered nouns. Grammatical gender is not the same
> as the term in
> culture, where it refers to socially defined roles,
> and it is now
> specifically distinguished from "sex." It has long
> been recognized that
> what are called "masculine" and "feminine"
> characteristics do not
> necessarily match genetic sex difference. That is a
> very long-term
> meaning and is no more up to you to choose or not
> than it is up to you
> to decide whether "cow" refers to a four-legged
> domestic farm animal
> from which we get milk and beef or a red cloud in
> the sky. Words have
> arbitrary meanings but they are not individual
> All this is just easily accessible information in
> dictionaries and
> linguistics, not me.
> >>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
> 07/11/07 12:17 AM >>>
> Just because the englsh MAN is a cognate of the
> german MANN
> does not mean that the German word carries any of
> the same meanings
> or connotations. In German Das Mann, as I take it,
> means HUMAN.
> The word with sexual dimension is MENSCH.
> Using the word GENDER here is very confusing.
> speaking, gender is an attribute of words -- words
> can be male,
> female, neuter. People are indeified by sex, male or
> I know that the politically correct police have
> tried to coopt
> gender for various power and control porpoises, but
> I for
> one am not buying it.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Charles McElwain"
> <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 5:17 PM
> Subject: Re: a Jeremiah ...?
> > I'm not sure why you refer to the German
> impersonal "you" as
> > "annoyingly gendered".
> > At least in German, what is commonly - and
> annoyingly - used in
> > English as "man" becomes "*Das* Mann" - *neuter*
> > My own prejudices were surprised when I expected
> "Der Mann", and
> > learned "Das Mann".
> > :-)
> > Charles
> > At 12:36 PM -0400 7/10/07, Nancy Gish wrote:
> > >But that is Diana's point: in German the
> impersonal "you" would be
> > >written as "Mann": annoyingly gendered but
> accurate. I am not sure
> > >matters that he chose the "you" but "one" is a
> bit stuffy in a
> > >conversation. In any case, according to Valerie
> Eliot, "his
> > >of the sledding, for example, was taken verbatim
> from a conversation
> > >had with this niece and confidant of the Austrian
> Empress Elizabeth."
> > >
> > >Eliot was staying in Germany and spoke German,
> but she may well have
> > >spoken English. So it is not clear whether or
> not Marie simply said
> > >"you."
> > >
> > >Nancy
> > >
> > --
> > No virus found in this incoming message.
> > Checked by AVG Free Edition.
> > Version: 7.5.476 / Virus Database: 269.10.2/894 -
> Release Date:
> 5:44 PM
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