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BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives

MGM·Lion 22 Nov 09 - 01:45 AM
Liz the Squeak 22 Nov 09 - 02:26 AM
Ebbie 22 Nov 09 - 02:31 AM
Sandra in Sydney 22 Nov 09 - 02:45 AM
folk1e 22 Nov 09 - 04:19 AM
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folk1e 22 Nov 09 - 04:52 AM
Paul Burke 22 Nov 09 - 07:02 AM
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Sandra in Sydney 22 Nov 09 - 07:21 AM
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Subject: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:45 AM

Some drift started on another thread, Horny Xmas, because the OP used the term 'manageress', which some US posters found amusing — one asking whether we over here would refer to a female pilot as a 'pilotess'. I responded that, be that as it may, I found the present PC insistence of one of our more 'liberal' papers, The Guardian, on calling all performers in plays 'actors' lost a recognised conventional and valuable distinction, & thus impoverished rather than enriched the language — 'actress' being a usefully distinctive term, surely recognised as such in US as much as in UK.

So when should the '-ess' suffix be used? when useful, & when inappropriate for reasons of PC or otherwise? & what are the Transatlantic variables, as e.g. in 'manageress', a term always used over here but not, it would appear, over on your side?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 02:26 AM

I've always had a sneaking fondness for the word 'chauffeuse' - a female chauffeur... I dislike the way the language is being made sexless but can also see how many people would dislike being referred to in what is usually the diminutive form. It's a difficult position....

There are some titles that have never really been gender related - I feel that 'pilot' is one of them - after all, it can also be a sort of ship and ships are always female - the same goes for professors and doctor, you don't have doctoresses or professoresses (imagine the difficulty in making name tags for one!).

There is a tendancy to go too far to the PC side in an attempt not to offend anyone, which is laudable, but at the same time, very disheartening for those of us who love the diversity and complexity of the English language.

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 02:31 AM

I understand that many US 'actresses' now prefer to be called 'actors'. Whether that is because of a perception of a lingering misogny or because they feel a distinction is being unnecessarily made between the two terms I don't know- but when one thinks of it, it becomes obvious that both sexes are acting and that therefore they are both actors. If that is what they prefer, I have no problem with it.

We use the "-ess" term and make related distinctions in other ways too. I happen to like the word 'Jewess' but I do consider it superflous. 'Waitress' has become passe in the US - the term now is the 'wait staff'. Individually we still speak of the 'waiter' and the 'waitress'.

In board meetings when the head of the directors is a woman, the term has become "Madam Chair", rather than Chairman. I see no problem there.

Some corrections are a great improvement, I think. In a day when so many women have joined fire departments across the country, 'fireman' is no longer accurate. 'Firefighter' is to the point. Same with people who direct traffic at a street construction project; they are no longer 'flagman' but 'flaggers'.

Much better, imo. It has nothing to do with political correctness, per se, but pertains to accuracy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 02:45 AM

Actress & waitress are the only 2 uses of "ess" I can think of that are common here, & "waitress" is apparently suspect in some places.

Tho I have seen signs in restaurant windows looking for a "waitperson, male or female"

I looked for "restaurant staff" on Jobsearch Australia (Govt website) & was directed to uncountable (over 20) pages of ads for restaurant floor staff, F&B attendants (food & beverage), waitress, wait staff, "front of house" assistants (their quotation marks) - wot no waiters?

A search for "waitress" gave similar no. of pages for waitress, waiter & wait staff.

And - Your search - manageress - did not match any document, while "manager" gave the usual collection of uncounted pages.

Actress only gave this entry - Is there a burning desire to unleash the inner actor/actress/model within you? Well we're looking for YOU! As one of Australia's leading Talent Agencies ... and "actor" led to the same ad. "Actors" gave 5 results - talent ads & someone wants a Santa.

'nuff silliness

sandra


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: folk1e
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 04:19 AM

Most of the gender unspecific (did I just invent a word there?) are from professions that were originally limited to one gender. How could a female pilot use a COCK pit or a JOYSTICK? Both these terms were coined with specific sexual intent!
Almost all the terms are male specific, the only one that I can think of as being female specific is Nurse.
One de-sexed job description that I do like is Chair instead of Chirman (or woman) as this implies that the person doing the job is almost an object or tool and therefore impartial!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: HuwG
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 04:37 AM

A cockpit refers to the sport of cockfighting, rather than any sexual activity. Similarly, a joystick is derived from jockeystick, used for steering small boats, carts or similar.

Governess seems to be specific to a profession now relegated to costume dramas. Likewise, seamstress. I believe that in the British acting profession, Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson led a campaign in the 1970s to stop calling female costumiers "seamstresses", they were now to be called "Wardrobe staff" or just "Wardrobe". The Muppet Show, and Martin Balsam, leaped at the opportunity. Martin asked Cooter, "Could Wardrobe press this suit before I go on stage?" The wardrobe obligingly crushed him.

Peeress (and also Baroness etc) would still be correct in the UK, as there are still laws and usages regarding the succession of titles in the female line.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: folk1e
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 04:52 AM

Not in a plane it doesn't! ;¬D


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Paul Burke
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:02 AM

My daughter used to be a monstress. I never heard of doctresses though there were conductresses. Mrs Plug wasn't a plumbress, and no one ever called herself a bakeress. I suppose a female lobster could be a lobstress. I have met mercifully few wankstresses.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:08 AM

The unintended (or not) consequence of giving equality to the sexes in this manner is that we revert mostly to what have been regarded as male versions. Let's just carry on is what I tend to think.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: TheSnail
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:12 AM

Mistress - found between a master and a mattress.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:21 AM

Paul Burke - I've seen Doctress used newspaper articles/stories? from the days when women doctors were rare & here's a definition from The Free Dictionary

Doc´tress
n.        1.        A female doctor.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.

& here's a British reference - Mary Seacole, doctress in Jamacia in 1830s

sandra


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:22 AM

When I studied theater in the late 70s, the women wanted to be called "actors", and the comment was made that we never used the word "doctress"....


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:47 AM

The problem of course is that there is not really gender in the English language, only sex.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:49 AM

Actually, Paul Burke, a female baker is, properly speaking, a baxter — one of the feminine variables other than -ess [just to complicate things, but, hey, who said life was supposed to be simple!?]: as in spinster, which originally simply meant a female spinner, but acquired present meaning becoz she wd be left at home spinning after her sisters had married and moved away.

Animaterra, one remembers similar controversies [none ever really resolved, probably] regarding authoress, poetess, &c. But I do feel 'actress' a useful distinction [for eg casting directors &c - esp these days when the world is full of female Sams, Charlies, Tommys, Mickeys...]


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: bill\sables
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:09 AM

My grandaughters want to be called Princess


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: wysiwyg
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:35 AM

I use the identifiers people choose for themselves.

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: artbrooks
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 10:40 AM

Herself, who is one (sort of), says that "a female Jew is a Jew, not a Jewess - after all a female Christian isn't a Christianess".

There are a lot of "-ess" occupational identifiers that have disappeared with the occupations themselves, e.g., the person who did the laundry was the laundress. However, I can't think of any that are still in use in the States except waitress, actress and stewardess, and these are all mostly replaced with gender-neutral terms.

A whole new thread drift (and I guess I was responsible for the OP's starting this one) could be a discussion of the elimination of the word "man" as a suffix. E.g., fireman -> firefighter.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 10:51 AM

So..........If you use the ess suffix you need to apply it across the board like in Cocksuckess or Mother Fuckess..............

Just a thought..............


Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 11:37 AM

Hmm, what about a real PC gender neutral Cocksuckingperson?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Marion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 11:41 AM

I think the term actress makes more sense than doctress or manageress or "lady lawyer" because of the nature of acting work. Male and female doctors have the same job, and male and female managers have the same job, but male and female actors don't - the men play male characters, and the women play female characters.

On the taff side, calling someone a "male nurse" is anachronistic but calling someone a "male prostitute" makes sense, because his gender is relevant to one profession and irrelevant to the other.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 11:49 AM

"Almost all the terms are male specific, the only one that I can think of as being female specific is Nurse." Folk1e


Hmmm. In what way can 'nurse' be said to be gender specific?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Amos
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:02 PM

A female pilot is traditionally called an aviatrix. Similarly, a female dominator in sado-masochism practices is a dominatrix.

The etymology of "cockpit" is not connected to the slang for male sexual organs in any direct way.

1580s, "a pit for fighting cocks." Used in nautical sense (1706) for midshipmen's compartment below decks; transferred to airplanes (1914) and to cars (1930s).

Joystick may have been born of the genital posture of the device in the early 1900's. According to an essay on the device in the New York Times, "The first citation of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary comes from the diary of the British actor and aviator Robert Loraine. In 1910, he made this entry: "In order that he not blunder inadvertently into the air, the central lever - otherwise the cloche, or joy-stick is tied well forward."

While some researchers have assumed an X-rated origin, Michael Quinion, a sleuth of international English and editor of the Web site worldwidewords.org, suggests that a G-rated definition is more likely: "The exhilaration felt by an early pilot's journey into the air," is how he describes it. As for the device itself, some argue that the credit should go not to Mr. Esnault-Pelterie, but to a Missouri pilot and inventor, James Henry Joyce - thus, "Joyce stick."

But a number of historians, including Edward Tenner, a senior research associate at the National History Museum's Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, side with Mr. Esnault-Pelterie."

I am more inclined to go with the exhileration-driven explanation myself; the reason being the relative conservatism of public language in the period.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Amos
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:07 PM

As an added note the first use of "joystick" to mean a control lever in an airplane dates to 1910. The first recorded use of the word "stick" to mean a male penis dates to 1916. www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2009/08/sticky-question.html


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:27 PM

I don't do political correctness, and I don't change my language, therefore a female/lady/woman manager will always be a manageress to me.

I loathe the usage of the word 'person'...as in chairperson....using either Chairman or Chairwoman.

What the heck is wrong in being identified as a woman?

I also have no problem if men call me 'Dear, Darlin', a lady, a girl, or 'alright my luvverrrrrr'.....I truly don't understand where all this seriousness in language came from.

I'm old fashioned, and I love being old fashioned, because it's my way and I like the language I grew up with. My Dad called all women 'ladies' and he spoke to them with utmost respect...

All this dillydallying over being feminine drives me nuts.

I'm a woman....and I love being feminine. It goes with my hormones. And I will never give up my right to be feminine, or to be identified as a woman, rather than a person purely because up their own arses feminists feel they have the right to dictacte their 'rights' to me...They don't.

My manageress at work is called Christine. Just so's you know. :0)

Vive la Difference!

(Cheeky, feminine grin, with a flutter of eyelashes, and a wink)

Lizzie...The Temptress.   (LOL)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:30 PM

AND...I will NEVER be a 'female operative'...

Holy Jumping Feminists, but that's a SCARY phrase!

Man! (Steady on fellas!) :0)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:32 PM

Amos - think your use of 'male penis' two threads back a trifle tautologous.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:34 PM

... & sorry Lizzie: didn't mean to SCARE ya — just you operate as little or as much as you like, OK?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:43 PM

All right, honey bun.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: wysiwyg
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:49 PM

-er is a gender-neutral suffix, but -or, I believe, is not.

Therefore "manager" is not gender-specific (grammatically) but actress is.

To further complicate the issue (grammatically-- I also don't "do" PC)-- we have the crazy nature of Enmgliush itself. The structure(s).

'Cause I don't think we wanna have acters. Though "dominaters" is fine by me, thus eliminating the need for "dominatrixes" unless the female dominaters like to be called -trixies, so that puts me back to self-chosen descriptors. (A woman with a whip always trumps grammar.) :~) (Unless grammer (grandmother) happens to be a whippy bitch.) :~)

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:54 PM

& sorry Lizzie: didn't mean to SCARE ya — just you operate as little or as much as you like, OK? <<<<

Okie dokie. :0)

I'm going to be a Honey Bun Operator, 'cos I think that's cute.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 12:55 PM

Herself, who is one (sort of), says that "a female Jew is a Jew, not a Jewess - after all a female Christian isn't a Christianess". >>>

Right Artbrooks — but the whole tenor & rationale of this thread is surely that such designations are often arbitrary rather than logical, so that such comparisons are POINTLESS in the context. A female Jew can be a Jewess or a Jew — both are quite acceptable usages. Ditto poet/poetess, author/authoress, & a whole host of others. But, as someone reasonably sez above, one can logically distinguish between actors & actresses in terms of the roles they will be called on to play.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:07 PM

*sitting on my hands*, lest I explain in excruciating detail the difference between 'expressing an opinion' and 'wearing an opinion like a political button'.

some of the -ess endings are beyond awkward ...context is everything.


(why, yes...I did type this post with my nose)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:10 PM

I'll just jump to the bottom and state that I find suffixes like "ess" and "ette" to be abhorent.

I worked as a ranger for many years, and every so often someone would try to refer to me as a "rangerette." I always corrected them to nip that in the bud in a hurry. Edward Abbey did that in some of his books to, I think, intentionally dismiss or at least diminish some of the women he didn't think much of (the feeling was evidently mutual in some instances.)

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:13 PM

I'm sorry, but how does being called a managerESS, or any other ESS, diminish you, as a woman?

It's always puzzled me..


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:16 PM

One could resort to other endings- e. g. Dominatrix.

We lose so much being pc- such as "Hostess with the mostes'"


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:21 PM

The 'ette' ending has been used for small.
In California, a small acerage has been called a 'ranchette'. The term is spreading in real estate advs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:30 PM

Q - I, & others — as with the -ix suffix & I with the -ster one — have already pointed out that there are various suffixes that serve the same purpose. Don't look for logic as to which is used in which context [see my response to Artbrooks 6 posts back as to how many of these conventions are arbitrary & logic will not work in trying to discuss them]; but I think all would be subject to the same considerations as to their acceptability or otherwise. I agree with your last comment as to how much of flexibility & expressiveness can be lost from the language by too much insistence on PC; & with Lizzie's view that there is nothing intrinsically objectionable to such distinctions in any event. What Stilly River Sage finds so 'abhorrent' in such usages I cannot begin to comprehend or empathise with.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:33 PM

Well mTHEgm, it is true that SRS has intelligence, passion, and a soul, so I see your point........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:36 PM

Buggered if I see yours Spaw — but I beg & pray you not to expound or explain...


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:41 PM

Careful, Spaw- dominatrix on the prowl.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:43 PM

I dunno Q, but the buggered part might be interesting........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:45 PM

"It can't be helped,
It must be done -
So down with your breeches
And out with your bum!"

James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:50 PM

You kinda' like that doncha'?

Cancel the drum and fix MtGM up with a vibrating pocket asshole from that joint Lizzie is concerned about.........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:50 PM

One of my favourite examples of the confusion caused by a too strict use of rules comes from the Guardian's obituary of Carlo Ponti.

"The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Monday January 15 2007."

A rigid application of the Guardian style guide caused us to say of Carlo Ponti in the obituary below that in his early career he was "already a man with a good eye for pretty actors ..." This was one of those occasions when the word "actresses" might have been used.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:59 PM

You kinda' like that doncha'? >>>

Spaw - just trying to co-operate in the transgender role Q seemed to want to cast me in...


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 02:07 PM

Oh, well then let's cancel the VPA from Lizzie's Sex Shop.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 02:07 PM

Try anything once, even at my age — except, as to vibrating arseholes, thanxbutnothanx!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: HuwG
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 02:20 PM

"...but male and female actors don't - the men play male characters, and the women play female characters."

Who says so? Prince Charming, Dick Whittington et al. are always played by female leads. Widow Twankey is always played by male actors.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 02:58 PM

*getting OFF my hands in order to explain*

-ESS an -ETTE are, to many people, saying 'only' a woman, and many of those endings originated specifically to carry the information that the bearer of the title might not be quite as good as the male equivalent....NOT as an expression of respect.

In some cases, it is useful and proper to note the gender, as in 'waitress' when it helps to identify one among many, but in many other cases, it is irrelevant...as when explaining that "the manager of the store did such-and-such.

Also, some endings simply make the term harder to pronounce and type and spell, and serve only to make 'most' folks wonder why one is bothering to make the gender differentiation. And, yes...in some cases, the neutral form is more awkward, as in "waitstaff" or "waitperson"

*IF* someone is just terribly attached to the more lengthy form....well, *shrug*... they can proceed, as long as they are willing to accept the usual remarks.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Marion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 03:00 PM

I'm not aware of that tradition, but assuming that you're correct, that doesn't change my point that male and female actors aren't generally interchangeable and can therefore be seen as doing different jobs. A better exception to the rule would be extra roles like "other people on the street" that can be filled by anyone.

Marion


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Marion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 03:02 PM

(My post above was addressed to HuwG, not Bill.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: artbrooks
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 03:07 PM

I remember reading somewhere, but I can't remember where and I'm not interesting in researching the reference, that actors were the (male) professionals while the word actress originally referred to women who hung around the theater trying to make the necessary contacts needed to graduate to the job of mistress. (I was going to say "position", but I figured that Spaw gets enough straight lines.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 03:34 PM

.........***sigh***............but alas, t'is true.........and more's the pity!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 03:44 PM

Our choir Chairperson has a long standing illness that requires her to be supine a lot of the time.. she signs herself as 'chaise longue'...

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 05:11 PM

"Prince Diana" just wouldn't have sounded right somehow.
.........................................

Why do these things never go the other way? If there's to be one word for both sexes on the stage, why couldn't it have been"actress"?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 05:16 PM

Our old chair has broken down.
May I hold your hand, monsieur?
M. Coq from Armentieres
Neuter of Spain I adore you

And what will the Spaniards and other do with el, la etc.? No more ooh, la la la?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 05:34 PM

"Princess Diana" didn't sound too good to some of us either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: ClaireBear
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 06:32 PM

A couple of comments on this subject:

I have always felt specifically that "poetess" was intended as a belittling term, as though a poetess was somewhat like a poet, but without real talent -- and probably with purple ink. I believe "poet" is entirely gender neutral and appropriately so.

On the other hand, I have been known to identify myself as a "technical editrix" -- mostly in fun, but I have to say that there's something about that "ix" ending that sounds more dashing than belittling. I rather like it.

Why are men who sew called tailors? What happened to seamsters?

Finally, I sing in a tiny church choir that has but one man, who holds down the bass section. Having the next lowest voice of all present, I hold down the next section up. Does that make me a tenress?

Cheers,
Claire


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:00 PM

Obviously the -ess ending indicates that the person concerned is female - but why should that be seen as "belittling" except by someone who thinks women are inferior?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 07:18 PM

'seen as "belittling"'- by women who see women as inferior?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:07 PM

I was born in the 1950s, and was a card-carrying feminist when I entered the workforce in the 1970s, where worked in jobs that were "non-traditional" (typically male - forester, park ranger, fire fighter). So I should be called a forester, a park ranger, a fire fighter. Those names describe the work, and the job doesn't change if a woman is doing it. But nitwits out there used to ask if I was a "Rangerette." Made me wonder if I should polish my high kicks.

You can carry this discussion to ludicrous ends, and a few of you seem determined to do so. Use the appropriate ending so the sentence makes sense--that's a no-brainer. But where there are titles or jobs where the male/female distinction is not only unnecessary, but it hasn't usually occurred, adding one tends to diminish the female contribution to the work and dismiss women as viable employees or artisans.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:15 PM

Sheesh Well, here I go again, making statements that*some* don't understand.

When anyone wonders why the diminutive, cutesy, dismissive terms were coined, stop and think about who coined them. Trust me- 'twarn't the wimmen folks.

One attitude that one encounters less these days but is still around just grinds my soul. That is the attitude that says, NOT in so many words: All Americans like thus-and-so and so do their wives.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Amos
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 09:20 PM

I went to an art show downtown today, housed in the nice buildings owned by the Women's League of San Diego. In the hall, they head a long array of photographs of mostly glaring women, some smiling, going back to 1908, wearing marcel, bobis, perms and other hairdo, all of them clearly social and presentable women. But the thing I noticed was, that even these were pictures of the women who were Chairpersons or Executive Directors or whatever of the Women's Leage, their names in over ninety per cent of the cases were the word "Mrs." followed by their husband's name. I know that was the convention and all that. But way back at the beginning I spotted one from 1918 who bore the name "Mrs" followed by "Lottie T. Something", and I thought she must have been a really brave soul to fly in the face of all that mindless agreement.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 10:00 PM

Good for her. Of course, she could have been a widow or perhaps, a divorced woman.

When one reads the history of around the turn of two centuries ago it is surprising how many people did get divorced. Ordinary people, not just Hollywood stars. (Incidentally, those early papers carried Hollywood news on the front pages, complete with scandalous pictures.)

I used to read a lot of Alaskan and specifically Juneau history in the microfilmed old newspapers. There, one day, I found that one prominent Juneau man had been previously married before he married an equally prominent woman in town. This was in 1903. I know this man's granddaughter who is in her early 80s now and I was curious as to whether she knew.

So one day I asked her- she hadn't known it until she was way past grown.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 12:44 AM

It's all silly!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 12:55 AM

Why does your opinion not surprise me?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: ClaireBear
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 02:56 AM

No, of course I do not see women as inferior. That remark was uncalled for, and not one I will forget. I'll certainly remember it every tme I consider posting to a thread like this again. What arrogance!

Just to make myself clear, I see the kind of thinking that causes some to feel it's necessary or even appropriate to label a poet by gender as inferior.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 09:30 AM

Hey Spaw - no need to make up words. Look up felator and felatrix - They are in the dictionary - Honest!

The one that gets my goat more is 'comedienne'. Why? Surely comedian is not gender specific is it?

One bit of trivia here for you to include in pub quiz questions - Which English word becomes plural by adding an 's' and singular by adding another one? Clue - See earlier postings.

(Not strictly true for the pedants out there but good enough for the Red Lion:-) )

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 11:00 AM

"felator and felatrix" "They are in the dictionary"

Not spelled like that, they aren't.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 11:04 AM

Double l's are good.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 11:13 AM

Hey Bill - I can't spull. How do you expekt to look things up in the dicshonairy?

:D


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 12:24 PM

*grin*... that's why *I* have spell checkers everywhere... if you don't have one that knows, Google knows everything, including how many others might have spelled it another way.

(my 'installed' spell checker only knew 'fellatio', but I just told it to remember fellatrix )

I am a halfway decent speller, but being a dyslexic typist, I need the help to catch me when my finergs get in reveres odrer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Wolfgang
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 12:29 PM

Mother Christmess

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 01:13 PM

Are you certain that is not 'Motheress', Wolfgang? :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 01:41 PM

"Motheress" would be just teeny bit redundant....but it kinda makes a point.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 01:49 PM

Motheress Fuckeress would probably completely over the top huh? And thinking of things that are also over the top and worn out.........Clik-ka-dee doo dah


Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Amos
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 01:57 PM

That's a [urely Latinate construction, Spaw, late Vulgate by the look of it.

Matrix Fucwitz is the ALsatian parallel construction. In the Congo jungle the Itudi pygmies say the same thing "murgle furgle".


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 01:59 PM

Amos referred to

"Mrs. Lottie T. Something",

Amos, the old convention was that a divorced woman carried the honorific "Mrs." because she was no longer a Miss (an unmarried and presumably inexperienced woman), but she no longer "belonged" or "was an extension" of Mr. Something, so she was Mrs. Lottie T. Something, assuming she had not taken back her maiden name when divorcing or divorced.   

A widow, on the other hand, still had that connection with her deceased husband, so she was "Mrs. John T. Something" until and unless she remarried, when she became "Mrs. Clarence Othername".   

And of course one might refer to the ex-Miss Jones as "Lottie Jones Something" and later "Lottie Jones Something Othername".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 02:16 PM

I can't see that "actress" should be classed as "diminutive, cutesy, dismissive" , rather than as a convenient way of providing a bit of extra information that is likely to be relevant.

After all, if you were casting the Scottish play, you'd want a male Macbeth and a female Lady Macbeth, both plum parts of equal status, so what's wrong with calling one an actor and the other an actress? (And if you were casting for a pantomime you'd obviously want a male Dame and a female Principal Boy.)

Using a diminutive ending such as "ette" is of course pretty silly - I wouldn't actually be too sure whether the blame for that kind of thing actually lies with men or women, but either way they would need to be pretty illiterate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:07 PM

"After all, if you were casting the Scottish play, you'd want a male Macbeth and a female Lady Macbeth, both plum parts of equal status, so what's wrong with calling one an actor and the other an actress?" McGrath

Ah ha, Kevin. "you'd want a male McBeth and a female Lady McBeth. A leetle redundancy there? (Which makes me very happy- speaking as a literalistic queen of redundsncy.)

Why should one need to specify that a actor and an actress were needed for that particular play?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:15 PM

You wouldn't want any McBeths in the Scottish play!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:16 PM

You'd just advertise for actors to read for parts in MacBeth, and if someone like Orson Welles applied for the part of Lady MacBeth, you'd inquire whether he could do justice to it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Penny S.
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:32 PM

The word priestess is used in the debate about women priests, and it is not used by those in favour. It is used to convey that women cannot be priests, and are therefore something else, probably dubious morally. This is conveyed by tone of voice or language surrounding the word.

I think it to be appropriate to use whatever term a person wants tp be known as. So if a woman wishes to be known as an actress or a poetess, it is up to her. And if she wishes to be known as an actor or a poet, it would be impolite to address her by the other term. Whatever the addressor feels about it.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:53 PM

My apologies to MAcbeth.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:54 PM

Sorry about the B. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 06:51 PM

Orson Welles would certainly have made an impressive Pantomime Dame.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 10:37 PM

Sorry about the B. :) >>

Still haven't got it right, Ebbie. It actually is called 'Macbeth'. There's no play called 'HamLet', is there? §;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:35 AM

I believe in Bill D implicitly. Take it up with him. ;)
(I plead guilty as charged. But you do know there are many names that do have a different format from Macbeth. HamLet, indeed.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 01:07 AM

Indeed so — McBeth, MacBeth, McBeath, MacBeath, M'Beth &c &c &c. But the King of Scotland 1040-1057 & the eponymous hero of, imo, Will Shax's greatest tragedy & hence the world's greatest play, did just happen to be Macbeth...


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 01:54 AM

Not but what Will, as was his wont [no pun intended!], played a bit fast&loose with the actual history. According to Holinshed, Macbeth defeated his predecessor Duncan in fairly fought battle & thus reigned perfectly justly and legally by right of conquest, with his consort Gruach, [a widow, which might well answer L C Knights' ironic question in the title of his famous essay 'How many Children Had Lady Macbeth?'] — none of which, of course, affects the outstanding intrinsic quality of the great tragedy...


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 05:59 AM

O'Thello - after all "Moor" is a common enough Irish name.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 07:08 AM

"I'll just jump to the bottom and state that I find suffixes like "ess" and "ette" to be abhorent. "

That's tough because it's the Queen's English which is the correct version, not some excuse of a language invented by raving lesbians and raving lefties.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Mo the caller
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 07:27 AM

I called for a Barn Dance last month for the Lord Mayor's Charity. This year Stoke on Trent's Lord Mayor is female which leads to various confused thoughts.
If a town has a mayor the wife of a mayor is a mayoress.
If the post is held by a woman she is a lady mayor and her husband is a ???
If the town has a lord mayor is the wife of a male lord mayor a lady mayoress, or a lord mayoress or what??
If the post is held by a woman she can't be a lady mayor, because that term is already used so is she a lady lord mayor?
And what is her husband?

Does anyone know? Maybe this should be a song challenge.

"I'mmm only a little lammmb sir"


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 08:30 AM

and the Queen is the Duke (yes, Duke) of Lancaster - What does that make Phil the Greek?

And no-one has answered my trivia question yet - Do you give up or is the question too lame?

DeG


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 09:30 AM

The answer is Prince. Thought 100 people would have replied by now. What do I get as my prize?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 09:37 AM

Some female roles get the suffix 'ette' too, as 'usherette'

Why not 'usheress'?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 09:45 AM

I've never quite managed to get my head around "Princess Michael of Kent." Actually, I don't really want to know.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 10:47 AM

Yay! Well done MtheGM. No prize I'm afraid but the satisfaction of knowing you beat everyone else to it:-)

And I'll by you a pint next time you are in Manchetser or Leeds

DeG


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 11:14 AM

http://www.fife.50megs.com/scottish-surnames-m.htm

A person could get confused trying to remember which are MAC, or Mac or Mc

I will take my punishment

Lay on, MACDuff! Or Macduff,,,or MacDuff...or MacDUFF


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 11:22 AM

ioo!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 11:46 AM

Ha, I love Mudcat. Where else would you get such a funny thread. Keep it going lads! :0)

Ooh...Ladettes....female Lads.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 11:50 AM

To be strictly correct, all Scottish names are Mac, then if they are followed by a forename there is a capital, if an occupation by lower case, so MacKenzie, MacDonald, Macgowan (smith), Macintyre (the carpenter) or Macnab (the abbot). I suppose if you put a capital in the last, it should be MacnAb, as the "n" is the definite article.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 11:53 AM

So what, please, Dave, is a 'beth', which appears to have been the occupation of the King of Scotland 1040-57, according to both Holinshed & Will·Shax?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 11:57 AM

Lizzie — glad you are enjoying the thread. You were a bit iffy at first, weren't you?, coz you took exception to my word 'operative' in the title. Glad you have got over that anyhow.

Michael


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:00 PM

"That's tough because it's the Queen's English which is the correct version, not some excuse of a language invented by raving lesbians and raving lefties." Bonzo, the Lame

For a moment I thought you were on a roll but you fell apart at the end. "a language invented by raGing lesbians and raving lefties' would be much better. Even then, it could be vastly improved.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: artbrooks
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:07 PM

Clearly, MacBeth indicates the child of a woman named Beth (Elizabeth) and whose father is unknown.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:12 PM

McBetty!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:16 PM

Yes, Artbrooks — but I am not asking about MacBeth, but about Macbeth, as in Shax & Holinshed — see Dave MacKenzie's important distinction above, 6 posts back.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: artbrooks
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:28 PM

Ah, yes...but the Mackenzies I know don't capitalize the K - so what is a kenzie?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:47 PM

And the M' Scots? A rarer breed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:49 PM

Had they introduced distinct upper and lower case letters back in the eleventh century?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Smedley
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:52 PM

My partner is a nurse, and a man. Some people have said to him, in all seriousness, "so you're a MALE nurse?". His standard reply by now is "I thought the beard was a bit of a clue."


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:52 PM

"Lizzie — glad you are enjoying the thread. You were a bit iffy at first, weren't you?, coz you took exception to my word 'operative' in the title. Glad you have got over that anyhow.

Michael"

Ooh noooo...I wasn't iffy at all....that was said with a big smile on my face.

I think this is a GREAT thread, Michael! x

One for Joe....Priestess :0)

(although she has to be a High one to be the real deal)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: SharonA
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:54 PM

According to this performance by the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI0OpUfi26U), Macbeth is properly called "Mr. The Scottish Play" (at 0:26) and his wife is "Mrs. The Scottish Play" (at 8:59). By the way, Mrs. The Scottish Play is portrayed by a male sock, as evidenced by the statement "and so is he" in the introduction to the play.

:-)

I've read through this entire thread, and I am in agreement with Stilly River Sage. For the most part, where there is a male/female distinction in a job title, it's unnecessary and it is a way in which some males attempt to diminish or discredit the female's credentials and abilities.

However, I think that peerage titles are another matter; for the sake of tradition, I would not want to see them messed with.

A while back, Ebbie asked, "In what way can 'nurse' be said to be gender specific?" I think the answer is obvious: the origin of the word has to do with breast-feeding! According to Merriam-Webster online, the etymology is: Middle English norice, norce, nurse, or nurshen (to suckle or nourish), from Anglo-French nurice, from Late Latin nutricia, from Latin, feminine of nutricius nourishing — more at nutritious. A "wet nuse" suckles another woman's baby; a "dry nurse" cares for another woman's child but does not breasst-feed it. Given the word's origins, I can see why a male might object to being called a "nurse" or a "male nurse", though the latter term seems to be used more and more commonly. Apparently, no one has come up with a satisfactory non-gender-related term yet (not one that I can find using Google, anyway).

Question: If a female actor is an actress, shouldn't a female manager be a managress rather than a "managEress"? (or would people tend to pronounce the "g" like it is in "progress"?) "Man-a-jer-RESS" seems unnecessarily long and awkward to me. As others have said, here in the US she would simply be called a "manager".

By the way, I am a co-chair of a volunteer organization locally -- not a co-chairwoman or a co-chairperson.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 01:16 PM

Co-chair sounds idiotic. In Spain this problem does not arise because everything is either masculine or feminine.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 01:20 PM

Well, Sharon - if you are a Chair I hope you don't let yourself get sat on.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 01:53 PM

Chair in Spanish- silla, f.

Females are to be sat upon-


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 02:05 PM

Jean Redpath recorded a song where I thought the matter was handled quite well. "The Kirk Soiree" (about telling a joke)

♫ "They made me the convener of the sewage committee,
For the story I had started at the Kirk soiree"♫

perhaps 'convener' is a common term some places....it is handy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 02:38 PM

"nurse (n.1)
12c., nurrice "wet nurse, foster-mother to a young child," from O.Fr. norrice (source of proper name Norris), from L.L. *nutricia "nurse, governess, tutoress," from L., fem. of nutricius "that suckles, nourishes," from nutrix (gen. nutricis) "wet nurse," from nutrire "to suckle" (see nourish). Meaning "person who takes care of sick" first recorded in Eng. 1590; the verb is first attested 1535 in sense of "to suckle (an infant)," 1526 in the passive sense, alt. of M.E. nurshen (13c.; see nourish), originally "to bring up or suckle a child," sense of "take care of (a sick person)" is first recorded 1736."

It seems obvious that the origin of nurse does not directly refer to breast feeding, elsewise it would not be necessary to refer to 'wet nursing'. From the above, and for that matter from what Sharon A posted, it appears that 'nursing' has always meant the care of another, whether in providing food or assisting in health.

I think we would agree that Clara Barton did not suckle the soldiers in her care. (Joke, OK?)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 03:34 PM

No-one ever asked tigresses what they think. I don't think that's bloody fair.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 03:44 PM

Got a pont there, Steve Shaw. Howver, keep in mind that we don't know what they call each other. :)

Come to think of it, we are fairly selective in naming members of the animal kingdom. We say tigress and lioness.

We don't say foxess, cheetess, catess, elephantess or hippopotomusess.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 03:49 PM

Lots of times there are completely distinct words for male and female of a kind - fox and vixen, duck and drake, king and queen.

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 03:49 PM

We do, tho, say vixen; distinguish the male cat as tom; talk of bull- & cow-elephants. Will give you cheetahs & hippos.

It all comes back to the point I constantly make in various contexts, that the last thing to look for in the English language is consistency, either of spelling or usage.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 03:51 PM

I'd like to be known as a Hippopotomusess from now on, please...

That is sooooo cool.   And I'm going to wear a little pink tutu and ballet shoes...and become the only Hippotoomusess Ballerina...

Yikes?

BALLERINA?

Now *where* does that fit in?

(This is such a good thread, Michael!) :0)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 03:54 PM

Got a pont there, Steve Shaw. Howver, keep in mind that we don't know what they call each other. :)
Ah, but surely you di-grrrrr-ess...


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 04:01 PM

As to Chair and Chairman and Chairwoman and Chairperson (and maybe others), according to a ruling by the American Parliamentary Association (most of whose members are female, by the way) the proper designation for the person who runs a meeting is "Chairman", with the option of "Chairwoman" if the gender of the occupant is of that persuasion and she desires the distinction. Yes, "Chairperson" is possible to refer to the incumbent, I suppose, but it's awkward and unnecessary.

Why?

Because "the Chair" of an organization or meeting is not a person but an office or an organizational function. The person who exercises the function is properly called "the Chairman" or "Chairwoman". "Man" here, as in many other "-man" words, does not assert a gender at all, but merely that a human being does it. That's the meaning of "man" in such words, and has been for eons.

To say, "She is the Chair of the committee/association/company/etc." is simply wrong.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 05:11 PM

There are MacKenzies who spell it Mackenzie - I have some on my mother's side. It comes in handy when I want to tell my relatives apart. Kenzie is normally anglicized as Kenneth (or Cannice in Kilkenny).

Beth is the Gaelic "beatha" - life, and the Mormaers of Moray used mac (son of) and mal (follower of) almost interchangeably.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 05:54 PM

Strictly speaking no woman is ever a "Mc/Mac etc" in her own right. The female equivalent is "Ni" (daughter of).


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 06:21 PM

Or in Gaelic it's Nic. The whole lot of us are Clann (children).


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: ClaireBear
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 08:41 PM

Re Chairs:

If I were one, I would be a ChairBear.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 09:01 PM

How about if we start a movement to not only throw out every even vaguely sexist term or anything that even alludes to whoever to fuck holds some position and invent new words?

Anyone or anything delivering the mail is a "Frumbish." Anyone heading up something who was a chair or whatever is now a "Blorfwop."

"Jim works as a Frumbish and is also the Blorfwop of the Sexual Pervert Society at his church."

Sounds great huh?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Smedley
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 07:14 AM

Sounds like a line from Harry Potter.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 09:11 AM

So I guess the buttresses on buildings will now be called butters.
And what about the seamstresses of old, or the governesses? Is it to be seamsters and governors?
I am too old to learn new tricks. For me, manageress it is. And actress. I mean no disrespect by the terms, quite the opposite. And I'll hold open doors for ladies (as opposed to female persons or feminine entrants and exitors). It's all down to the good manners I was taught. If you don't like it, sue me. Or shoot me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: GUEST,watcher
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 09:43 AM

Just to throw a spanner in the works (or should that be a spanneress?)does anyone know if the French feminists get bothered about their job titles, since all their nouns are split into le (masculine) and la (feminine.
What do German feminists think, having der,die,das (masculine,feminine,neuter)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 11:13 AM

In linguistics, gender usually has little relationship to sex. Der, die, das are called 'gender' for some arcane reason.
It is often the case that nouns which seem male or female take a different 'gender'...or even neutral.

There is a famous article by Mark Twain making fun of this. It is endings which are the real issue, not grammatical conventions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 11:21 AM

What about those male and female ends on coaxial cables and suchlike? Very rude if you ask me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 11:28 AM

Steve Shaw, i remember the first time I realized the implications of males and females in the plumbing trade. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 11:44 AM

Her: "I'm not an actress, I'm an actor"
Him "Nice chihuahua bitch you've got there"
Her (offended) "She's not a bitch, she's a lady dog!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 01:32 PM

Overheard: "Shit! I stepped in some dog doo doo."

No one ever claimed that anyone is consistent, Nigel.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Amos
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 02:38 PM

First of all, gender distinction is very important in the universes of husbandry, hunting, and show-animal breeding. IT makes a different if an animal is a sow rather than a boar, or a dog is a bitch or not. In the days when more people had a hands-on relationship with raising animals for labor or food, the language reflected their efforts and concerns.

In human occupations, it is often meaningful information as to whether a person is --for example--an actor or an actress, a dom9inator or a dominatrix, and in some contexts, a chairwoman or a chairman, a masseur or a masseuse.

This does not make any of these words inherently belittling. If they are USED to belittle the problem is with the small-minded user, not the nature of the words themselves. It is easy to get entirely too precious and find offense where none has been placed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 07:32 PM

Mattress? I suppose we could say "palliasse", but that's a word liable to lead to misunderstandings.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 07:38 PM

We often talked about pally asses when I was younger. Definitely not the same as mattresses, and only likely to lead to misunderstandings if you have an arhotic accent.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 08:12 PM

Of course a palliasse is a mattress. One that's stuffed with straw as a rule, but not always.   "Arhotic accent" - you've got me there. I think I might have one of those, whatever it means. (I Googled it: "We're sorry, we checked all 4 million or so documents in our database but we totally couldn't find the article Arhotic.")


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Monique
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 08:45 PM

Yes, Guest Watcher, French feminists do get bothered and insist on job titles being "le" if male and "la" if female, the main example being ministers being called "Madame la Ministre" and not "Madame le Ministre", "ministre" having been a masculine-only word so far because ministers had always been men until recently; the weirdest being "maire" (mayor) because when we say "le maire" everybody knows what we're talking about while "la maire" (female mayor), "la mère" (the mother) and "la mer" (the sea) sound alike but usually the context allows to sort it out.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Mo the caller
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 06:33 AM

So one knows about Lord Mayors then?
I thought Mudcatters knew everything between them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 07:25 AM

Well, yes: if the title is 'Lord Mayor', then there is no reason not to have a female one. I remember when the Mayor of Cambridge was a female acquaintance, & she had her daughter as her 'Mayoress' to accompany her on ceremonial occasions.

There was a similar situation in Cambridge not long ago, when one of the colleges whose head was traditionally known as The Master elected a woman to the post: she was still The Master of the College.

Mind you, Girton College, which was originally a women's college, has a Mistress [as distinct from Newnham, the other older women's college, which has always had a Principal; & women's college New Hall {recently renamed Murray-Edwards} has a President]; what will happen if Girton, which is now mixed unlike those other two, elects a male head I am not sure. I wonder if he would have the nerve to go with tradition & be The Mistress!?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:49 AM

Arhotic hasn't made it into the dictionaries yet then. It's the opposite of rhotic which means the letter "R" is pronounced as written, especially before consonants and at the ends of words. Admittedly Oxford only dates rhotic to the 60's.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 10:01 AM

BTW Lizzie — we haven't heard from you lately. Too busy practising your hippopotamusess-ballerina ballet steps, I expect. Confess, my dear — you've been watching Fantasia again, haven't you?

❤Michael xxx


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 12:28 PM

By the way, from Wikipedia: A ballerina (Italian for female dancer) is a title used to describe a principal female professional ballet dancer in a large company; the male equivalent to this title is danseur (French) or ballerino (Italian)

I like ballerino.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 05:14 PM

A ballerina also may be called a danseuse
male- danseur
Often used in Canada, with its two official languages.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 06:16 PM

I said I like 'ballerino' because I don't know how to pronounce danseur or danceuse. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Rowan
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 06:48 PM

Too busy practising your hippopotamusess-ballerina ballet steps, I expect.

When I saw Lizzie's post on this I thought I'd like to be a hippopotameuse; I have the build for it, if not some of the other necessary attributes.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 07:35 PM

We had lady policemen oop north when I were a lad. Not many, mind.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 07:44 PM

We'd be more likely to say 'lady cop'. Or these days, since I have more time, I'd say police officer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Lox
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:02 PM

I have to say that in my view only one word describes the suffix "...ess":

And that is ... utterly ... usel.


Especially up in Loch N.


Up there it's like an Illn.


I think I'll go now - I need to sleep I must conf.

I've been up all night watching Porgy and B. (more or L)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 05:11 AM

We have a woman postman at the moment.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 08:18 AM

The female hippopotamus should best referred to as "a hippopotoma", if we defer to the expertise of Flanders and Swann, which of course we should:

The fair hippopotama he aimed to entice
From her seat on that hilltop above
As she hadn't got a ma to give her advice
Came tiptoeing down to her love...


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 08:23 AM

", if we defer to the expertise of Flanders and Swann, which of course we should:"

Indeed we should NOT — they were both at Oxford.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 09:47 AM

The folks formerly known as students - neuter, are now wished to be known as "learners" - even deeper neuter by the idiots at CALAT (Croydon Adult Learning & Training).

They are so imersed in equality - which really amounts to thickos, pooves and imigrants being given more attention.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Smedley
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 11:14 AM

"They are so imersed in equality - which really amounts to thickos, pooves and imigrants being given more attention."

If that's an attempt at irony, it's not successful.

If that's an attempt at provocaton, it worked (just a little bit),

If that's what you really think, I'm sure there is a crypto-fascist groupuscule somewhere that would welcome you with open arms.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 11:42 AM

Well, a bright orange notice at Purley Pool states that they are committed to equality of opportunity and freedom of discrimination in their...............

......all employees are treated fairly ..........regardless of gender, marital status, parental status etc etc..............

BUT THE GENTS' CHANGING ROOM HAS HAD NO HEATING FOR OVER 6 YEARS, which I consider to be an absolute disgrace


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 12:00 PM

Yikes. I'll bite. What's a Gents' Changing Room?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 12:18 PM

Ask Dr Jekyll...


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 01:24 PM

:)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 01:38 PM

What's a Gents' Changing Room?


A little common sense would tell you that it's where men change into their swimming shorts would it not???

A little thick around here aren't they Lizzie!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 01:44 PM

Foreigners from those isles across the water speak in peculiar tongues.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 01:57 PM

Be fair, you've got people like that too in States.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 02:09 PM

A Gents' Changing Room, in the USA, is probably the same thing as a locker room. Are you just as thick?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 03:26 PM

No, been on a diet.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 03:28 PM

:)


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 03:48 PM

...is probably the same thing as a locker room.

But there might not be any actual lockers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 03:53 PM

OK. Put it this way, Kevin: I don't think we have anything called 'Gents' Changing Rooms' in the US.

Frankly- thick or not - my first thought upon the first mention was that he was referring to some kind of private club. As in the old books, you know.

Sounds like baby diaper changing tables to me. :)

Sensitive? Who, me?


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 03:56 PM

baby diaper - what hideous phrase is that??? In the UK they are simply nappies, but stink just as badly!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: SharonA
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 04:00 PM

Some have said here that my use of the term "co-chair" or "chair" is incorrect, and that "chair" refers only to the office and not to its occupant. Though that may have been true at one time, I believe the usage is changing; I can find evidence on-line from reliable sources for both sides of the argument.

To Ebbie re "nurse": Hmmm, seems that we're both seeing what we want to see and calling it "obvious"! My perception is that the noun "nurse" has its origins in the verb "nurse" (to suckle) -- a nurse was nourishing another woman's baby which, during the time that the word originated, would have to have meant suckling that baby at the other woman's breast. I dispute your argument that the distinction between "wet nurse" and "dry nurse" means that the origin of the word "nurse" did not have to do with suckling; I would think that the distinction arose after the invention of the baby bottle!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 05:50 PM

In explication for North Americans-
Nappy, nappie, noppy- of liquors, foaming, having a 'top'. OED
Nappy- said of a cloth with a 'nap', a rough surface. OED
Nappy- a disobedient horse. Etc.

Nappy, colloquial for napkin. Napkin in this sense- a rectangular piece of cotton or absorbant material used as a baby's undergarment by folding, drawing up between the legs and fastening at the waist. 19th c. OED
Diaper in this sense- A baby's napkin or 'clout'. OED
1596, Shakespeare Taming of the Shrew- "Let one attend him with a silver bason, ... Another have the ewer,... the third a diaper" OED


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 05:53 PM

"baby diaper - what hideous phrase is that???"

Maybe that's why it died out in the UK!


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: artbrooks
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 05:59 PM

In the US, "nappy" is most often used, in a manner considered to be offensive, to refer to the hair of women of African descent.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 06:00 PM

Used without adding baby in U. S. Napkin usually reserved for a table napkin.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Rowan
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 09:48 PM

This thread has made me wonder about "coquette". Is it a female or a diminutive "coq(ue)" or is it both.

Being male (if not really masculine, in the eyes of some) and on the 'large' side, I suspect I am neither, although I used to be able to flirt.

Having changed more than my fair share of nappies I'm happy with "napkins" at the dinner table, although they've mostly been called serviettes when I was learning table manners.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 10:11 PM

Serviette - "The older use of the word was exclusively Sc. In the 19th c. it was re-introduced with the French spelling (at first only as a foreign term). It may now be regarded as naturalized, but latterly has come to be regarded as vulgar."
1906, Bland, Lett. Daughter, 53; "...she was the sort who would call a table napkin a serviette."

Comment and quote from Oxford English Dictionary.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Rowan
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 11:42 PM

I love it that 'catters can quote from the OED. My copy (the one with two volumes and a magnifying glass) lives well and truly out of reach of the internet.

And it's not the first time that aspersions have been cast on my familiarity with vulgarity; all I can plead, yer honour, is "that's how I woz brung up!"

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 12:07 AM

Interesting how this thread of mine has drifted into the 1950s AlanRoss/NancyMitford 'U&non-U'/'NoblessOblige' controversy — anticipated by the Hon Nancy in her novel 'ThePursuitOfLove'[1945] ['serviette' rather than 'table napkin' being one of her main markers]; &, as we learn above, even further anticipated [1906? cor!] by one Bland, as adduced by Q above.

drift - drift - drift ··· How Delightful: just like Ratty's 'messing about in boats'...


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 07:14 AM

I once described a juggler as a prestidigitrix. Juggless would not have rhymed with "magic so" ..... and jugs has a mamary connotation I would avoid. She also danced with Greenfiddle Morris in Toronto c 1986. Louise Love - what a nice name. I hope she got her PhD in Biochemistry.

The UK Magic Circle includes jugglers and vents (funnily enough) in its membership.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 08:15 AM

Is a serviette a female servant? ...

... ok ok I'll go ...


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 08:39 AM

Is a serviette a female servant? ...


No, in non oik circles it's a napkin.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 02:07 PM

Canadians are vulgar too, Rowan. Serviette is alive and well in Canada.

Never heard it in the U. S., but when I moved to Canada, it seemed to be standard usage.
Just like chesterfield for a couch.


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Subject: RE: BS: Usage: -ess suffix for female operatives
From: SharonA
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 03:16 PM

"baby diaper - what hideous phrase is that???"

I think it's a phrase meant to specify the object as a diaper for babies rather than for adults with incontinence. Here in the US, at least, the popular brand of adult pull-on diaper is "Depends", which is used rather often in place of a descriptive noun, just as some people will say "Kleenex" (the brand name) rather than "tissue" (a soft paper product used for blowing one's nose).

By the way, those of us Americans who watch BBC programs on public television are familiar with the British use of "napkin" and "nappy" for "diaper."

A chesterfield is a couch in Canada? In the US, it's a brand of cigarette.

Never heard of a serviette before I read it on this thread today. I would have guessed it meant a serving cart for room service at a hotel or for dessert trays at restaurants. Ya learn sumpin new ever' day!

Mr. Red "described a juggler as a prestidigitrix"... Wouldn't that be "prestidigitatrix" if it was supposed to be the feminine form of "prestidigitator"?


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Mudcat time: 28 July 1:39 PM EDT

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