Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Jeff Barnett Post by Daud Deden Post by email@example.com Post by retrosorter Post by retrosorter
John Ayto's Dictionary of Word Origins tells us that the term "girl" originally designated a child of either sex and that "knave-girl" referred to the male variety but doesn't specify the female version. Was it lass-girl."
Or possibly "wench-girl"?
OED has only one citation of "knave-girl" (1475). They note two
early uses of "gay girl" under sense 2a. A young or relatively young
woman. I suppose that might have been the female equivalent.
But all this is happening within a very short time-span: Pre-1300
history of the word is quite obscure. The dialect evidence supports
the view that it was gender-neutral at one time; but it becomes gendered
first attestation of girl as "child" c1300
as "young woman" a1375
as "female child" c1400.
There may not be much more we can learn from the documentary record.
I don't know.
I was reading something about Montenegro attitudes and language
Man 1: Tell me about your family.
Man 2: I have three children and a daughter.
I would guess that the above is more a product of attitude than linguistics.
It's a product of bad translation.
"How many dogs dp you have?" "I have three dogs and a bitch."
"How many horses do you have?" "I have one horse and three mares."
Those are factually incorrect, because in English some gendered terms are
used as the superordinate or general term, and some aren't.
A factually correct answer would be "I have one stallion and three mares."
I don't think bad translation had anything to do with it. It took a
while for me to find the source of the above. It comes from an article
in the book "The Archie Goodwin Files," edited by Marvin Kaye and is
still available at Amazon.com. The particular article of interest is
"The Black Mountain Revisited" by Marina Stajic, PhD based on a talk she
gave to a Nero Wolfe society `Wolfe Pack' meeting in 1989.
She was born near Montenegro and spent much time there. At the time of
her talk she lived in the USA and is/was Director of the Forensic
Toxicology Laboratory at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, City
of New York. Her writings show a grasp of English and humor that will
make many of us envious. I believe that she meant the above snippet to
show exactly the male bias humor that pops out of it.
Since I neither speak nor know any of the languages used in that area of
the world, I could of course be off base. However, I'd like to hear from
someone who has spent some time in that culture.