the suffix -man

wingyellow   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 07:48 GMT
Put off means delay or deter.

Changing the preposition of a phrasal verb to the opposite may not give the opposition meaning.

You swallow in something, but excrete out something instead of swallowing out.
Simon   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 08:43 GMT
Man in the Germanic languages (in all of them in one form or another, I think) was originally a neuter term. Society shaped the language not the other way around.
Chantal   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 13:01 GMT
The French have no female world for a "ministre"or a "docteur". They call a female minister "madame le ministre" and a female doctor "la doctoresse" (or le docteur Marie Dupont). La doctoresse sounds odd and isn't very common.
Chantal   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 14:12 GMT
Sorry 'no female word'
Ryan   Thursday, October 09, 2003, 00:20 GMT
Jim, there is a difference between what the dictionary says and how people colloquially speak and how they semantically interpret words. My point is that in the US, at least, people normally construe "man" as ALWAYS meaning, a male. Hence, using the word "policeman" means that the listener automatically assumes that the person is referring to a male.

It makes more sense to allow either both the words "policeman" and "policewoman" in order to determine gender, as gender is not indicated by the presence of a masculine or feminine article in English as it is in some other languages. Or, one can use a gender neutral word like "officer" if one doesn't want to specify a certain gender of the cop in question.

If you told me, an American, about a run-in that you had with a policeman, I would NEVER ask you if the policeman was male or female. I would always assume the former. Because there has been differentiation between the words "man" and "woman" in the sense of meaning "male" and "female," this has caused confusion in the language and in the traditional "dictionary meanings" of words.

mjd   Thursday, October 09, 2003, 03:33 GMT
Changing the subject slightly.....

I think it's interesting how the pronunciation of this suffix can change (at least in my American English).

For example:

Say "policeman" or "fireman"....I pronounce the suffix as a schwa.

In words like "handyman" or "candyman"...I pronounce the suffix (using the ASCII guide: "me..n" (in my case, the normal pronunciation of the word man).
mjd   Thursday, October 09, 2003, 03:39 GMT
Oh case Dotman is wondering....I pronounce it following the second example I gave.
Rugger   Friday, October 10, 2003, 12:58 GMT
I pronounce "policeman", "fireman", "postman" somewhat like "policemun", "firemun", "postmun". Therefore, to me, these words become more titles of the occupation and don't allude to the gender, since the "man" part isn't the normal pronounciation of the word man. When someone refers to a "policeman", I usually just take this to mean that they are calling "someone" in law enforcement, whether male or female.
..   Friday, October 10, 2003, 14:04 GMT

handyman=handy-man regular man pronunciation
garbage man=garbage-man
pizza man=pizza-man
..   Friday, October 10, 2003, 14:06 GMT
Sometimes when people say fireman and firemen they sound really similar, but, some people say firemun and for firemen they use they regular men pronunciation.
Fly   Friday, October 10, 2003, 18:27 GMT
In US, we tend to say " please-mun" in stead of 3-syllable " po-lice-mun",or at least in Virginia.
sima   Friday, October 10, 2003, 18:31 GMT
Do you pronounce the suffix -on always the same way. Like in Clington, Newton, London, Washington, Jackson,...... ?
And is it pronounced like /Jack-sén/ (for Jackson) ?
mjd   Friday, October 10, 2003, 18:40 GMT

I don't think "please" is a good word to represent the beginning of "policeman." It doesn't sound like "please" to me.
richard   Friday, October 10, 2003, 18:57 GMT
I say puh-lees-mun i've never heard it pronounced like pleasemun
Rugger   Saturday, October 11, 2003, 02:06 GMT
How about the pronounciation of the suffix "land" in words such as "highland", "lowland", "Queensland", "midlands". To me, the "land" part is pronounced as "lund", so that these words sound somewhat like "highlund", "lowlund", "Queenslund" (although I sometimes pronounce it with the normal pronounciation of the word land, i.e. Queens-land), and "midlunds". Basically, the "land" part is pronounced in the same way it is in "island" or "England"/"Ireland"/"Scotland".