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Re: USAGE: WOMYN (was: RE: [CONLANG] Optimum number of symbols, though mostly talking about french now

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Saturday, May 25, 2002, 21:15
Quoting And Rosta <a-rosta@...>:

> Tom Wier: > > Quoting Andreas Johansson <and_yo@...>: > > > > > Funny. I know more than one feminist who claims that even having > > > gender-specific forms for ANY profession, let alone using, is sexist. > Some > > > of them think that all the plentiful Swedish profession words ending in > > > "-man" should abolished, and in extreme cases also the impersonal > pronoun > > > "man" too, while others take the more workable approach that "man" in > these > > > cases should be seen as gender-neutral. > > > > Yeah -- these people sound like the anglophone feminists who insist > > that the word "woman" should be spelled "womyn" because the Old English > > construction "wífmann" was sexist, despite the fact that synchronically > > for most modern speakers "woman" is monomorphemic, and bears only > > phonological remsemblance to "man". This kind of linguistic naivite > > annoys me every bit as much as prescriptivists' benighted views of > > English dialectology. > > "man" and "woman" are unique in pluralizing "men", "women", so the > resemblance is morphological as well as phonological.
I'm not entirely convinced by that. For me, the apophony in the first syllable is the salient pluralizer, since the second syllable's vowel would reduce to schwa whether it was an underlying /&/ or underlying /E/. There is, in other words, no way to tell that the UR of the second syllable is not in fact /E/ in both "woman" and "women". If it is, which is quite reasonable, then "woman"'s plural form is formally distinct both from "men" and from other Germanic plurals like "geese" and "deer" in having a /U/ --> /I/ ablaut plural (although it resembles the former, if you ignore the laxness). ===================================================================== Thomas Wier "...koruphàs hetéras hetére:isi prosápto:n / Dept. of Linguistics mú:tho:n mè: teléein atrapòn mían..." University of Chicago "To join together diverse peaks of thought / 1010 E. 59th Street and not complete one road that has no turn" Chicago, IL 60637 Empedocles, _On Nature_, on speculative thinkers