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AWADmail Issue 357

May 3, 2009

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Language

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Supreme Court Damns Expletives on the Air
The Web of Language

Of Loos and Language
The New York Times

From: Leslie Simmons (leslieinca gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--maritorious
Def: Excessively fond of one's husband.

Today's entry says: "The word to describe a husband who is excessively fond of a wife is uxorious. The word maritorious is rare, while uxorious is fairly well known. What does that say about the relative fondness of husbands and wives to each other?"

I'd guess it says nothing at all about actual fondness, but rather that we have gender stereotypes that say men should be dominant and cannot be "real men" if they are too attached to their wives. Whereas it's often considered, contra the Chapman quotation, meritorious for women to be "doting" wives. Both these stereotypes/expectations are still with us, though they're not as prominent as they used to be.

From: Laurie Gerber (gerbl pacbell.net)
Subject: Maritoriousness

I think "uxorious" is so much more common in speech than "maritorious" because husbandly devotion is much rarer! Wifely devotion is so common as not to warrant commentary.

From: Brook Sadler (bsadler chuma1.cas.usf.edu)
Subject: maritorious and uxorious

"Uxorious" is used frequently because it is clear that there is an upper bound on how much a man should love or dote on his wife. Too much affection for one's wife is unmanly, effete; whereas, a woman is supposed to have abundant, overflowing affection and devotion to her husband. There is no "excess" in a wife's care for her husband, hence no need to use "maritorious". But clearly a husband is capable of "excess" affection for his wife; there are limits to what tenderness or commitment or deference a man owes his wife. The difference in the prevalence of the use of these two words reflects an underlying gender-based double standard. Language reveals so much!

From: Lou Goldstein (louscience earthlink.net)
Subject: maritorious

I suspect that the relative frequency of uxurious and maritorious says little about the relative fondness of husbands and wives to each other, and much about the dominance of the male point of view. How extreme would a woman's fondness for her husband have to be, before the husband would consider it excessive?

From: M J Maddox (mjmaddox mac.com)
Subject: uxorious

The familiarity of the word uxorious has nothing to say about the relative fondness of one for the other. It has much to say about the cultural attitude that being uxorious is seen as a weakness in a man, while being maritorious is but expected in a woman.

From: Ed Burditt (humangay cox.net)
Subject: maritorious

This word is no longer related to gender. All over the world men are being allowed to marry men and women are being allowed to marry women. Therefore it is possible for a man or a woman to be fond of his or her husband.

From: James Carpenter (jdcarpenter coloniallife.com)
Subject: maritorious

I am both maritorious and male -- quite fond of my husband. And we don't even live in a state where we can legally marry. Now consider those residents of the Netherlands, South Africa, and Massachusetts, where pairs of presumably fond husbands leave the courthouse every day, marriage certificates in hand. I am not offended, just amused that heterocentrism should appear here, of all places. Interesting words, all - keep them coming!

From: Mike Riley (jmyke comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--patricliny
Def: Inheritance of traits primarily from the father.

Gee, I guess I always thought this was a '50's country singer.

From: Jeb Raitt (jbrmm266 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--misogyny
Def: Hatred of women.

My father was a misandrist and my mother was a misogynist. That's right, he hated men and she hated women.

To my father, all but a selected few men were unfeeling, callous clods; and to my mother, all but a selected few women were shallow, self-centered, and spiteful.

They were quite a match.

From: Causse Jean-pierre (causse.jean-pierre orange.fr)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--materfamilias
Def: The female head of a family, household, tribe, etc.

Paterfamilias is more often used in French than materfamilias. The father is often considered in France as the head of the family, but it is the mother who is in fact the chief!

Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade in public. Never clothe them in vulgar and shoddy attire. -George W. Crane

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