Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the remarkable and pervasive sexism behind english word derivation


From: The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology | Date: 1996 | Author: | Copyright information

patriot †compatriot XVI; (orig., as in F., with commendatory adj.) one whose ruling passion is the love of his country XVII. — F. >patriote — late L. >patriōta — Gr. >patriṓtēs, f. >pátrios of one's fathers, >patris fatherland, sb. use of adj. ‘ancestral’, f. patḗr, >patr- FATHER; see -OT.
So patriotic XVII. — late L. — Gr. >patriōtikós. patriotism XVIII.

D: I was reciting the Canadian national anthem with little River, age 6.

I said "patriot" was a reference to men.

That is a hell of a thing to say to a little girl!

Literally, I was correct. Let us examine where patr- comes from, and its various bewildering word forms.


pa·tron (ptrn)

1. One that supports, protects, or champions someone or something, such as an institution, event, or cause; a sponsor or benefactor: a patron of the arts.
2. A customer, especially a regular customer.
3. also (pä-trn) The owner or manager of an establishment, especially a restaurant or an inn of France or Spain.
a. A noble or wealthy person in ancient Rome who granted favor and protection to someone in exchange for certain services.
b. A slave owner in ancient Rome who freed a slave without relinquishing all legal claim to him.
5. One who possesses the right to grant an ecclesiastical benefice to a member of the clergy.
6. A patron saint.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin >patrnus, from Latin, from pater, patr-, father; see p>ter- in Indo-European roots.]

Contrast with MATRON:

ma·tron (mtrn)
1. A married woman or a widow, especially a mother of dignity, mature age, and established social position.
2. A woman who acts as a supervisor or monitor in a public institution, such as a school, hospital, or prison.

[Middle English >matrone, from Old French, from Latin mtr>na, from m>ter, mtr-, mother; see m>ter- in Indo-European roots.]

matron·al adj.
matron·li·ness n.
matron·ly adv. & adj.

pa·tron·ize (ptr-nz, ptr-)
tr.v. pa·tron·ized, pa·tron·iz·ing, pa·tron·iz·es
1. To act as a patron to; support or sponsor.
2. To go to as a customer, especially on a regular basis.
3. To treat in a condescending manner.

D: patron versus matron. Matronly, patronize.

All derived from PIE for mother/father.

Fatherland has a peculiar ring to it, in light of WWII and the Germans.
Motherland should, but does not.
Homeland would be a sensible substitute.

>Matriot, BTW, is not a word. Apparently those with a motherland still feel patriot love.
Go figure.

Gender assumptions are so deeply embedded in English that we would hafta edit out much vocabulary to excise it.

I'm not going into the pronoun game. The use of 'they', third person plural is a poor choice to address the gendered he/she quandary.

See the end for the 10,000 year old proto-indo european origin.


*ph₂tḗr father Lat. pater, >Oscan ���������� (ention-tr">patír)an>, >Umbrian �������������� (lass="mention-tr">iupater), Gk. πατήρ (patēr">)</span>, Toch. charian_A" title="pācar">pācar/pācer, Arm. >հայր (hayr), <i>Gaul.> ātir; Ateronius, Skr. पितृ (n class="mention-tr">pitṛ́), Gm. fater/Vater, Ir. athir/athair, Eng. fæder/father, Welsh gwaladr; edryd; edrydd; edryf, Kashmiri petū'r, Avest. ptā (dat. fədrōi), Pers. �������� (pitā) / پدر (pedar), Osset. фыд (fyd)/fidæ, ON faðir, Goth. ���������� (fadar)

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