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Posted: 13 May 2007 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Could it be this one, Aldi?

http://p211.ezboard.com/Phrases-from-jokes/fwordoriginsorgfrm19.showMessage?topicID=344.topic

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Posted: 13 May 2007 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Aldi’s excerpt from Boswell’s Life of Johnson in the recent Bottom thread doesn’t use the actress/Bishop phrase but just such a situation certainly may have been, ehem, at the bottom of it:

Talking of a very respectable authour, he told us a curious circumstance in his life, which was, that he had married a printer’s devil. REYNOLDS. ‘A printer’s devil, Sir! Why, I thought a printer’s devil was a creature with a black face and in rags.’ JOHNSON. ‘Yes, Sir. But I suppose, he had her face washed, and put clean clothes on her. (Then looking very serious, and very earnest.) And she did not disgrace him; the woman had a bottom of good sense.’ The word bottom thus introduced, was so ludicrous when contrasted with his gravity, that most of us could not forbear tittering and laughing; though I recollect that the Bishop of Killaloe kept his countenance with perfect steadiness, while Miss Hannah More slyly hid her face behind a lady’s back who sat on the same settee with her. His pride could not bear that any expression of his should excite ridicule, when he did not intend it; he therefore resolved to assume and exercise despotick power, glanced sternly around, and called out in a strong tone, ‘Where’s the merriment?’ Then collecting himself, and looking aweful, to make us feel how he could impose restraint, and as it were searching his mind for a still more ludicrous word, he slowly pronounced, ‘I say the WOMAN was FUNDAMENTALLY sensible;’ as if he had said, hear this now, and laugh if you dare. We all sat composed as at a funeral.

(Even though it was Johnson speaking, not the Bishop.)

Bishop speaking before congregation: “It’s been so long since last we were all together, and quite hard too.”

Church matron: “Thank God he’s wearing his robes.”

[ Edited: 13 May 2007 11:39 AM by foolscap ]
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Posted: 14 May 2007 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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In recent years I’ve got used to actors of both sexes being termed ‘actors’ most seem to prefer it and so do I. Having said that I still get a mental picture of a male when I hear the word ‘waiter’ so maybe its a case of usage making it familiar. As for ‘dominatrix’ I can’t see that changing any time soon (if ever) as I’d imagine its important for people in the bondage scene to know which gender the dominating person is. (Don’t know what you call the male equivalent anyway come to think of it.)

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Posted: 14 May 2007 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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once you are dealing with a real person, then there is a need to differentiate between the sexes

Oh really?  Is there also a need to differentiate when dealing with real architects, say, or cousins?

maybe its a case of usage making it familiar

That’s exactly what it’s a case of.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 06:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Of course there is no qualitative difference between food served by a waiter and food served by a waitress, but there is still a difference; one person serving is a man and the other is a woman and most diners will notice that difference without necessarily thinking the service has been the better or worse for it.  Whilst I agree there is a case for describing the occupation in a gender-neutral way, once you are dealing with a real person, then there is a need to differentiate between the sexes.

If there is a need to specify the sex of a particular server--and there rarely is such a need--there are many ways to do so. You don’t need a special word or affix to do so. There is nothing confusing or ambiguous about “Alice is a waiter.” But if you wanted to say “Alice is a waitress,” that’s okay. It’s not the word that is objectionable, but the unnecessary differentiation between the sexes. (Emphasis on unnecessary; it’s not that there isn’t a noticeable difference, but that there is rarely any practical benefit, and often some harm, in calling it out.)

It might be a bit weird using “waiter” in a Hooters restaurant, although sexist language is the least of the problems there.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I really don’t mind whether I’m called an actor, actress or whatever.  I wonder whether air hostesses object to their job title?  And why not “air hosts” instead of “air stewards”?

I’m now debating whether or not to refer to myself as Mr, Mrs or Ms Eliza.  The jury’s out.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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There used to be a riddle going the rounds in the 70s. I’m sure it wouldn’t work now, which indicates how far we have travelled.

A father and his son are involved in an horrific car crash. They are rushed to the hospital and the son is wheeled into the operating theatre. The surgeon takes one look at the boy and cries out, “I can’t operate on this patient. He’s my son!”

Nowadays people would come up with the explanation in a second, but I can assure you back then many, including myself, were stumped, resorting to elaborate ‘solutions’ rather than the (now) obvious one. Old habits die hard.

Oh and, yes, skibs, that’s the very thread, and very entertaining it was too.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Air hostesses rather than hosts probably because it was originally an (almost) exclusively female profession. It is precisely the same in Swedish - there are flygvärdinnor (female) but no flygvärdar (male).
There must be a whole host (or hostess) of other examples. What do you call a male ballerina, or a female bosun (=boatswain)?

Thanks to political correctness, women have special terms like actress, stewardess, waitress but men have to share theirs with the ladies. Gentlemen, to arms against this gross injustice in the English language! And while we’re at it, let’s redefine the term masculinism as the counterpart of feminism!

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Posted: 14 May 2007 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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A male principal ballet dancer is called a ‘danseur noble’ according to this site http://www.dgillan.screaming.net/stage/th-ballet2.html apart from that they just refer to male dancers

As for air hosts - they are called flight attendants on every flight I’ve been on recently

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Posted: 14 May 2007 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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languagehat - 14 May 2007 05:51 AM


Oh really?  Is there also a need to differentiate when dealing with real architects, say, or cousins?

No, because both words are gender-neutral and therefore confusion is avoided (although most people will continue to think that architects, lawyers, doctors, army officers etc are male if no sex is specified, there isn’t the added incentive of not having used a common female equivalent term)

Perhaps a female bosun could be a bosm’d, short for boatsmaid.

[ Edited: 14 May 2007 07:44 AM by bayard ]
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Posted: 14 May 2007 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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"Server” seems to be the preferred neuter term for a waiter/waitress these days, in my experience.  Problem is, it really needs context.  If someone walks up to your table in a restaurant and says “I’m your server”, the meaning is clear; if you ask someone what they do and they say “I’m a server”, it doesn’t seem to gel unless they add “at Casa de la Chez” or something.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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You could have ‘boat-significant-other’ for boatswain - shortened to ‘boso’

(I’ll get me coat . . .)

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Posted: 14 May 2007 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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This has cleared things up a lot for me and thanks. I now see there are elements of sexism in some of these appellations though I’d still assert ‘actress’ can be helpful and save time as it nails down gender and profession in one word.
Say I’m no film buff:
A: I met a famous person today
B: Who?
A: An eminent actor
B: Yeah, but who? A guy?
A: Kelly Preston
B: Male or female?

‘I met the famous actress Kelly Preston today’ is a lot more economical, even if the above dialogue is highly unlikely!

This begs the question of why all ‘actors’ shouldn’t be up for awards in one single category eg Best Performer, regardless of gender. Nicholson butches it out with Paltrow! I reckon female actors would definitely assert their gender here.

There is also a book prize in the UK for female novelists. I don’t know how popular this is among them, when many write equally good novels that sometimes win (and often get shortlisted for) Bookers and Whitbreads in competition with their male counterparts, anyway.

Maybe it is that the movie biz is a bit more vain and hype-driven; the more awards the better for the studio, ‘actors’ careers and the ‘industry’.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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No, because both words are gender-neutral and therefore confusion is avoided

Well, exactly.  Which is precisely why many women would like all such terms to be gender-neutral.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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And then there’s Diva and Prima Donna.  Haven’t heard of many guys being described as such.

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