Linguistics

Linguistics

Matt Bruekers

The argument about 'politically correct' language has been going on for a long time; yet, there is a simple solution because the problem derives from an ignorance of Anglo-Saxon (English) linguistics.

To a European, who by now has spent more than fifty years in Australia, it is surprising to observe how little local English-speaking people appear to have been taught about grammar and the Anglo-Saxon roots of their language; for the Saxon languages (the English and German varieties alike) are as 'politically correct' as any diehard feminist could ever hope for.

In Germanic languages there always was a clear distinction between the sexes. In Saxon, a male was a werman, a female was a wifman. (Wer, wher, weer, vir, etc, are all derived from the Sanskrit vira, meaning male.) Lazy usage of the language dropped the wer from werman and changed wifman to wife and woman.

The obvious solution to the feminist hang-up would have been to reinstall the word werman, because wer and its local variations and derivations are still a common indicator of the male gender in all Germanic languages: werewolf in English, Wehrmacht (male power, army) in German, weergeld (a former conscription-tax) in Dutch, etc, are some, still current, examples.

If our feminists hadn't been so ignorant they would have insisted on reintroducing werman as a male indicator, rather than bastardising the English language with the introduction of neo-logisms such as chairwoman, chairperson, wimmen, etc.

Let me close with a quote from a medieval Anglo-Saxon legend about the martyrdom of St Agatha, which relates that her final prayer included the sentence: 'I thank you God, for having created me a man.'

Readers who would like to get a more complete idea about the interaction between the Saxon language and its English heir should read the, sometimes hilarious, 13 page article, 'In the Image of God: Male, Female and the Language of the Liturgy', in which the self-proclaimed feminist Suzanne Scorsone trashes the idea of an inclusive language (Communio, Volume XVI, #1, Spring 1989, p.139).

MATT BRUEKERS
Lesmurdie, WA

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