The influence of feminist movement on the formation of words

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The influence of feminist movement on the formation of words

When a parallel words including man and woman, male terms usually didn’t have marker but the female terms always have feminine marker, and the former are usually formed by adding feminine marker to the male terms, which reflected the consciousness that men was the center of our society. 

One of the most obvious evidences in English is the affixes which leads to a view that women is a deviation from a male universal norm. The female form is seen as the marked term and the male as the unmarked one. There are a range of different affixes which are used to refer to women, such as -ess, -ette, -trix in the following examples:



















The affix: -ess, -ette, -trix, are diminutive forms of the male term. The suffix ‘-ess’ has been used since the Middle Ages to form nouns denoting female persons, using a neutral or a male form as the base as can be seen from the above examples. Despite the apparent equivalence between the male and female pairs of forms, however, they are rarely equivalent in terms of actual use and connotation in modern English (consider the differences in meaning and use between manager and manageress or poet and poetess) ‘-ette’ as a suffix forming nouns denotes 1) relatively small size: maisonette, kitchenette, statuette; 2) an imitation or substitute, flannelette, winceyette;3) female gender. As for -trix, it has been used since the 15th century to form feminine agent nouns corresponding to masculine forms ending in -to.

 Man is also used as a suffix in such examples as 1) craftman, fireman, fisherman, milkman, policeman, postman, salesman, seaman, which denote a person engaged in a certain occupation; 2) Dutchman, Englishman, Frenchman, and Irishman, which are used to indicate the people in a country. In all of above examples the nouns are usually understood just refer to males.

Feminist movement brings about a series of new words and thus which makes English colorful. Such as women’s lib(women’s liberation or women’s liberations), women’s liberationist, women’s libber, feminist wordsmith, fel(female) libvocabulany, male chaunivist, space woman, astronauters, womanaut, wedism, sexist(non-sexist) language. Pn is the abbreviation of person. New gender-neutral pronouns have in addition been created as substitutes for the generic masculine pronoun. In one of such creations, e is used to mean he or she, and ir stands for him or her and his or her. This proposal would make the following sentence acceptable; every good citizen should love ir country more than irself; e should be ready to die for it if the need arises. It is well-known that not everything will be successful and try new things is very important. There will be a long way to achieve certain goals. 


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The influence of feminist movement on the formation of words

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This article was published on 2012/05/18
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