the suffix -man

-man   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 19:22 GMT
Do you think the suffix -man shouldn't be used when talking about women working in a job? alot of the jobs that end in -man have been replaced by
-person or something else policeman-police officer fireman-fire fighter mailman-mail carrier. Is the suffix -man OK or wrong to use in that sense?
Jaro   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 20:22 GMT
If I were a woman, and someone called me a fireman, I would feel offended. Women can do almost any man's job today, and we should show them a little respect by not calling them something-man. I think the replacement of man in job names is substatiated.
-man   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 23:49 GMT
what about the saying, All men are created equal?
Jim   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 00:11 GMT
What if you were a woman and someone called you a human ... or a woman, for that matter. Are we going to go so far as to change these to "huperson" and "woperson"?

But then even "person" has "-son" in it so should we change it to something more neutral ... "child" for instance? Then we could have "huperchild" and "woperchild". They've got a nice ring to them, ay.

I don't think that the suffix "-man" is wrong. The word "man" refers not only to males but to all people. There is one sense of the word in which it refers to males and there is another sense in which it refers to a human or the human race.

The best solution would be to coin a new word for the male sense of the word "man". This would leave the word "man" without it's percieved sexist connotations ... or at least potentially it would. How about the word "homan"? The real difficulty is that such a word might never catch on.

It's probably going to be hard going if you intend going down that path. So Besides coining a new word we've got two options keep the suffix "-man" or replace it as Jaro suggests.

As much as I might want to argue that there really isn't anything wrong with "-man" some women (or should that be "woperchildren"?) will still be offended. Further, the suffix sort just doesn't seem to quite fit anyway, somehow.

So I've got no problem either way but if it shows women respect lets come up with new words.
-man   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 01:23 GMT
the words person and human do not contain those words, man and son as suffixes they're just a part of the word, just like in Jackson, Johnson, Robinson, and Davidson.
Californian   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 01:35 GMT
Yes but -man, many of those names are from the patriarchal societies where a child takes the name of his or her father and adds -son or -datter. Now of course the entire name is just passed on, but that's what they used to do in Viking societies at least.
-man   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 01:36 GMT
datter that is a crazy word.
Jim   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 02:25 GMT
Like Californian says the names "Jackson", "Johnson", "Robinson" and "Davidson" are all formed by adding "-son". So if the "-son" in "person" is the same as the "-son" in these surnames, as you say it is, then it very much means son. Therefore, shouldn't we show women respect and refrain from using the word "person" to describe them?

How are you getting about making this distinction between what is a suffix and what is just a part of a word? Take a word and add a suffix and you form a new word. The suffix is part of the new word.

The "-man" in "policeman", "fireman" and "mailman" is as much a part of the word as that in "human".
Ryan   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 03:33 GMT
Well, I think the present connotation when one says "a man gave me something" is that a MALE person gave you that thing. You don't ask, "was the man male or female?" So if you use the word "man" in any sense, it seems to imply that the person is male.

I think if you say "a policeman stopped me" that people, at least in the US, assume the policeman is male and do not ask "was it a female policeman?" Therefore, more gender neutral words are required in order to avoid confusion of meaning.

Californian   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 03:55 GMT
People say policewoman too you know! lol
Boy   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 04:15 GMT
Californian -- I say "womanpolice". Is it wrong??

Jaro --

".....If I were a woman, and someone called me a fireman, I would feel offended. Women can do almost any man's job today...."

Oh really. If I and my friends put off our clothes completely on the streets right infront of many people, can girls/women do the same right infront of many people? :-)

I got this coversation dialogue from an Hindi movie. It was so interesting to hear it when boys and guys were arguing each other on that issue. That's to say, 'Girls and boys were equal.' Girls could do anything that boys could do. Then boys said, "we could put off our clothes, could you do the same."
Then, oponent girls had no answer for that question.
Jim   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 05:07 GMT

Surely you're not telling us that you don't know any sense in which the word "man" does not imply that the person is male. If you are though, please have a look at these dictionaries to jog your memory.


When I think of "womanpolice" it's not a woman police officer that comes to mind rather I think of some kind of police force designed to police women. Also, "take off" not "put off". You can put something you have to do off. To put something off is to leave doing it until later instead of doing it when you had planned to.
wingyellow   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 05:41 GMT
Why should we care so much about it?
Adam was created first.
Boy   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 06:09 GMT
Dr. Jim Issac Newton, May I ask you a question, please?

"Put sth on" means to cover your body with (clothes...etc).

When you use 'on' with 'put', that means to wear something in order to cover your body. So why is incorrect to say 'off' with 'put' in order to remove your clothes from your body.
mjd   Wednesday, October 08, 2003, 06:24 GMT

I know this question was for Jim, but I don't think he'd mind if I gave it a whirl. To put something onto something else, you place the thing (in this case clothes) onto the other object (the body). To remove something, one must take it off. You're taking the clothes off the cannot "put" clothes can, however, put clothes away, i.e. in a drawer, dresser, closet etc. You're bringing them to the closet or putting them there.

I hope this all makes sense.