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#167282 - 04/02/07 12:14 PM widower  
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kerrand Offline
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What is the origin of widower as the male equivalent of widow?

Is there a rationale to the use of the -er suffix? I cannot think of any other equivalent pair.

#167283 - 04/02/07 02:00 PM Re: widower [Re: kerrand]  
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tsuwm Offline
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this too shall pass
good question. the following excerpt seems to indicate that this is a singular, or at least rare, occurrence in English.

In its earliest stages English had a fully realized gender system. But in the course of its development from Anglo-Saxon to Modern English, English dispensed altogether with adjectival inflections, eliminated all but a singular/plural distinction in the determiners, and discarded all inflectional differentiation (except the genitive and plural markers) in the noun system. What we have got in place of strict grammatical gender is a noun-gender system that has been variously described as natural, notional, referential, or semantic. That is, the gender of a noun, for purposes of concord, is determined not by its form, or the form of its satellites, but by the sex (or
lack thereof) of its referent.[13]

13. This assertion demands some qualification. First, we do have some noun-gender markers: -ess, -ix, and -erte. Sometimes the -er in widower is cited as a masculine gender marker. Second, I am intentionally omitting from consideration here figurative gender assignment, by far the most revealing and probably the most interesting aspect of gender in English, but one beyond the scope of this essay.

Sexist Grammar Revisited
Elizabeth S. Sklar
College English, Vol. 45, No. 4. (Apr., 1983)

edited to remove other footnote markers

Last edited by tsuwm; 04/02/07 02:11 PM.
#167286 - 04/02/07 03:02 PM Re: widower [Re: tsuwm]  
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of troy Offline
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rego park
Ok so there is no other pair. but ER is a sort of gender marker.

farmer
cooper
weaver
many verbs become nouns, and tend to connote masculine professions, by adding ER

spin can become spinner, but more often is spinster (ster ending for a term commonly associated with women)

and there also exist blonde and blond (i never can keep track which is supposted to be the feminine form and just use blond.)

#167293 - 04/03/07 04:00 PM Re: widower [Re: tsuwm]  
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Jackie Offline
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English dispensed altogether with adjectival inflections, eliminated all but a singular/plural distinction in the determiners, and discarded all inflectional differentiation
Could someone give me examples of these, please?

#167299 - 04/03/07 11:48 PM Re: widower [Re: Jackie]  
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Faldage Offline
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One example would be the strong declension of the adjective ględ, 'glad'

Code:
          Singular 
           Masc.         Neut.      Fem.    
Nom.       ględ          ględ       gladu
Acc.       ględne        ględ       glade     
Gen.       glades        glades     ględre   
Dat.       gladum        gladum     ględre
Inst.      glade         gladle

          Plural
           Masc.         Neut.      Fem.   
Nom.       glade         gladu      glade
Acc.       glade         gladu      glade     
Gen.       ględra        ględra     ględre   
Dat.       gladum        gladum     gladre 


Edit: Adjective changed from til at tsuwm's suggestion. It gets a little muddled by the stem change from ględ to glad, but you get the idea.

Last edited by Faldage; 04/04/07 01:43 AM.
#167300 - 04/03/07 11:51 PM Re: widower [Re: Faldage]  
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Zed Offline
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adjective til, 'good'
ummmm
is that English?
(and is it related to until?)

#167302 - 04/03/07 11:56 PM Re: widower [Re: Zed]  
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Faldage Offline
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Yes, it's English. I don't think it's related to the till that gave us until. The prefix un- in until is not a negating prefix, by the way.

#167303 - 04/04/07 12:07 AM Re: widower [Re: Faldage]  
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tsuwm Offline
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this too shall pass
Old English, that is; but then that's what we're talking about here -- English that has passed on, that is no more, is pushing up the daisies, etc. etc.

-joe (parrot sketch) friday

(I suppose an example of an adjective which is still extant but no longer has inflections would be of more interest..)

#167317 - 04/04/07 07:09 PM Re: widower [Re: tsuwm]  
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wow Offline
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I've noticed that "actress" has been pretty much abandoned and both male and female thespians are called actor.


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