I came across this surfin’ the net. http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/08/the-word-man-was-originally-gender-neutral/S talk Us! The Word ‘Man’ was Originally Gender Neutral DAVEN HISKEY AUGUST 25, 2010 8Today I found out that the word ‘man’ was originally gender neutral, meaning more or less the same as the modern day word “person”. It wasn’t until about a thousand years ago that the word “man” started to refer to a male and it wasn’t until the late 20th century that it was almost exclusively used to refer to males. Before “man” meant a male, the word “wer” or “wǣpmann” was commonly used to refer to “male human”. This word almost completely died out around the 1300s, but survives somewhat in words like “werewolf”, which literally means “man wolf”. Women at the time were referred to as “wif” or “wīfmann“, meaning “female human”. The latter “wifmann”, eventually evolved into the word “woman”, but retained its original meaning.
The word “wif” itself eventually evolved into “wife”, with its meaning obviously being changed slightly.
Interestingly, the word ‘men’, meaning “to think” or “to have a cognitive mind”, was also gender neutral and connected to “man”, which meant “the thinker”. So we can see from that how “man” originally referred to all humans.
Largely due to the stigma that using the word “man” meaning “humans” is supposedly sexist, despite its original meaning, the use of the word “man” in that fashion has all but disappeared in the last 50-100 years, with it now only showing up in words like “human” and “mankind” as referring to both male and female. Even those instances still garners quite a bit of controversy in terms of being thought of as sexist, despite these words predating the point when “man” meant “male” only.
One interesting convention that was thought up in the early 1900s to deal with this issue of “man” coming to mean both male and female and also sometimes meaning males exclusively is, in literature, to do the following: when referring to humans, “man” should be capitalized as in “Man”; when referring to “man” as in “male”, it is to be left lower case. This convention was used in such literary works as “The Lord of the Rings” and was a key point in the prophecy concerning the Witch-king of Angmar: “no man can kill me”, meaning that according to the prophecy a woman, Eowyn, could because “man” in the prophecy was not capitalized.
The only thing that surprised me here was that it appears that the author had just recently learned this prior to writing the article.
Come on, who didn’t know this? The word “man” can mean people or the human race, and it’s easy to tell when, simply by the context in which it is used.
This is why I don’t like it when people feel that we must come up with new terms for things in the name of being politically correct. We now have to call mailmen; letter carriers, firemen; firefighters, a spokesman; a spokesperson, a manhole; a personhole, and the list goes on and on. This shit started when I was a kid who didn’t know a thing about politics or sexism, but the idea of everyone having to change what we always called something just to satisfy a small minority of people who were complaining, rubbed me the wrong way and it has ever since.
There has never been a good reason to give in to any of the demands politically correct crowd. Using the term man in place of people or person was never sexist or confusing.
Everyone knew what someone meant when they said things like man made, mankind, manslaughter, or any compound word that ended in “man”. No one (except for the pioneers of political correctness) ever thought that any of these terms were used to exclude women.
No one (or at least almost no one) was ever offended by any of these terms until they were instructed to be so by the PC people, and that is the reason that I wrote a previous post “I’m a Native American”. http://goldengeesenews.blogspot.com/2013/06/im-native-american.html
You might think that is no big deal that we all have to bow down to the whims of politically correct, but it is.
If you were to go back fifty years ago and asked any 100 people of American Indian descent what were the biggest problems they and they’re people faced, none of them listed “being referred to as Indians” as one of them. Why? Because it wasn’t a problem! The United States government referred to them as Indians and they referred to themselves as Indians. They were not offended by it because they had not yet been instructed to be offended by it, and there was seldom any confusion between them and people of India, once again because of the context in which it was used.
Political correctness is an evil that goes far beyond changing accepted terminology and doesn’t do any good, not even for the people the PC folks claim they’re trying to help.
All it does is instill anger and resentment where it did not exist before, and cost people who didn’t even have a dog in the fight, money. We have had to change wording on signs and in literature because of it, but the worst example is what so many communities have had to do concerning the names of school sports teams. Most people don’t realize it, but it cost a lot of money for school to to change the name of their teams.
Once again, do you think any people of American Indian descent cared that school mascots were named after Indians or various Indian Tribes fifty years ago? Of course not! It never even crossed their minds. Why would it? They were just like other people with real problems to deal with, and something so insignificant wouldn’t have even made it on their radar screens.
Virtually no one was offended by such things until they were instructed to be. How do I know this to be true? Because if it was not, we would have heard about such things earlier, before the disease of political correctness spread across the land.
I’ll be the first to admit that the American Indians have suffered many real injustices at the hands of the United States and many of it’s citizens. but terminology, school mascot names are not among them, and having these be flagship causes in their name only diminishes other’s awareness and concern for any true injustices.
Political correctness does no one any good and here’s why. It is a relatively new phenomenon and the people pushing it claim that they are trying to solve various social problems, but guess what? The most effective ways to deal with the problems that the politically correct claim they are trying to remedy have already long since been thought of. It’s just that the PC crowd doesn’t like the traditional solutions.
What do I mean?
Take “not liking what other people refer to you as” for example. What is the traditional way of dealing with this? It’s going by the age-old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Now that may sound like advice one might give to a child, but what is more childish? The politically correct way to deal with such a situation is to get whatever authorities to make rules against other people using terms the “victim” finds offensive. Let’s look at the outcomes of the two different approaches being used in the real world.
First of all you got the “n-word”. I can’t even write it here without being trashed by someone. The politically correct powers that be have elevated it from racial slur to the granddaddy of all hate words. Then you got “Redneck” which at one time, was poised to become the white counterpart to the n-word. How did the way whites and blacks deal with these words differ and what was the end result.
The blacks chose to go the PC route and as a result may now have something that can destroy the careers of celebrities and politicians that are caught using it, but they also gave the people that truly hate, a powerful weapon.
The whites on the other hand, chose to deal with the word “redneck” in the traditional manner. They didn’t let it bother them, in fact many of them considered it a badge of honor. As a result, the word now has no power to insult or hurt them. The people of Wisconsin did the same with the term “cheesehead” which was supposed to be the people from Illinois response to F.I.B. (fuckin’ Illinois bastards). If you think Wisconsinites let it bother them, just watch a Green Bay Packers game on TV.
You might be inclined to say that the n-word is a much more serious slur than redneck or cheesehead and maybe it is, but I can’t help but think that going the PC route in dealing with it, did not make anything better for anyone, black or white.
Everything PC touches is a disaster. Take dealing with bullies for example. What’s the traditional way of dealing with a bully? Stand up to him. You don’t even have to win the fight. All you have to do is stand up to him and he will move on to an easier target. After this process repeats itself enough times, the bully finally learns it’s just easier to treat people with respect and decency. What’s the PC way to deal with bullies? Rules, sensitivity classes, and special treatment for the victim. The problem here is that it makes the victim especially vulnerable when he is away from the protection of authority. Instead of kicking his ass on the playground, the bully kicks his ass after school.
This is why the PC way of addressing problems never works. People learned tens of centuries ago what works, and doing something other than what we know works, more often than not, will not.