January 12, 2006

The terms of it all

Step 1: Looked up "man" in my Chambers' 21st Century Dictionary. Found such definitions as:
  • An adult male human being.
  • A male person associated with a specified activity.
  • Human beings as a whole.
  • A human being, a person.
Didn't find it there. So I went on to ...

Step 2: Looked up "woman" in my Chambers' 21st Century Dictionary. Found such definitions as:
  • An adult human female.
  • Women generally, the female sex.
  • One's wife or girlfriend, etc.
Hmm. Didn't find it there either! So I turned to ...

Step 3: Looked up "man" in Wikipedia (here). (Yes, I realize Wikipedia ain't a dictionary, but I'm getting somewhere with this, believe me). Found various headings, such as "Etymology", "Age", "Biology and Sex", "Gender roles". But didn't find it there either! So I turned to ...

Step 4: Looked up "woman" in Wikipedia (here). Found various headings, such as "Etymology", "Biology and Sex", "Culture and gender roles", and "Legal rights of women historically" ... and I finally found it!

I finally found this heading: "Vulgar terms".

Why "vulgar terms" should be part of a dictionary or encyclopedia entry on "Woman" -- but not part of a corresponding entry on "Man" -- is something I cannot answer, but hey, forget the why, it's just gotta be there! I'm glad someone thought fit to put it in that Wikipedia entry!

Though you will have no doubt noticed, that heading is no longer there. Since I first saw it in the entry for "Woman", it's been moved to Misogyny and renamed "Misogyny in language", can you believe it.

Why did that happen? Well, partly because of this post on Scribble Pad.

Oh well. Back to the dictionaries and encyclopedias.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

Here's a more fair and balanced article on women.

And yes, they have one on men too.

m. said...

awesome! you're a chambers' fan too?! i'm not sure which edition i have, i just know it's mighty old. here's why i love it and refuse to replace it: in acronyms, amongst all the other stuff, there's N.B.G - "No Bloody Good" :D

thanks for taking up the issue - and no, i dont deserve that much credit! cheers for the blogworld :)

Anonymous Goatherd said...

Dilip, the argument that the Chambers Dictionary didn't have vulgar terms listed is not valid. If you want to compare Wikipedia with something, compare it with an encyclopedia. If you want to compare a wiki equivalent with a dictionary, please compare Wiktionary with it. The Wiktionary entry for "Woman" does not list offensive terms.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul, thanks for those articles. I am profoundly impressed by their gravity and learning. They could not possibly be more fair and balanced.

m, I have a Chambers', whose delights I'm still discovering. I like their very selection of entries.

Goatherd, I'm not making any argument or comparison. (Thought that was clear from the piece where I say I know Wikipedia is not a dictionary). I simply tried to poke fun at the "Vulgar terms" section in the Wikipedia entry.

smiley said...

Hi did u realise that
Man is a part of woman,
He is a part of she,
Male is a part of female...