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Theme Seasons and Celebrations - posted on 1st Oct 2017 at 1:52 PM
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Mad Poster
Original Poster
#1 Old 25th Aug 2015 at 3:00 AM
The Female–Woman Adjective Debate
For as long as I could remember, I've been using female as an adjective and woman as a noun because that was what I was taught. But over the past several years, I've been hearing/reading woman as an adjective more than ever: woman doctor, woman president, woman judge, etc. Many people believe this is ungrammatical whereas others don't because of its being an appositive noun. Some dictionaries accept it whereas others don't. Grammar Girl prefers female with the explanation that you wouldn't say a man nurse. Man as an adjective is simply not acceptable; therefore, why should woman be? Some sites mention that it's a feminist issue because female is being used more scientifically/biologically or for animals, and being reduced to an animal or less human is degrading.

This issue is important to me because I'm a writer, and I feel as if it were a double-edged sword. On one hand, I don't want to appear ungrammatical with my choice. On the other hand, I don't want to appear to be ignorant or disrespectful, since I do hold feminist views. I do know that it is best not to use any gender with professions, such as male nurse or female/woman doctor, because it implies superiority/inferiority. However, it seems to be encouraged to do so in the case of making history, such as "the first female/woman president of X company." Some feminists prefer fem to omit male, and it is widely known that some of them prefer the spelling womyn, but this is whole different debate. Or is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago Manual of Style

Usage

Q. Is it correct now to use “woman” as an adjective? I know dictionaries list it as such, but dictionaries are reflectors of common usage, not arbiters of proper grammar. I have an author who insists on using “woman activist,” rather than “female activist,” because according to her that’s the common usage in her professional field. I hate the usage because I see it as both incorrect and undesirable—unless we’re going to start using “man activist” as well.

A. Any editorial objection to woman as an adjective must come up against the reasons that woman activist is more common than female activist. Many of these reasons probably have less to do with grammar and more to do with the history of American activism (Webster’s, for example, includes an entry for the phrase woman suffrage, dating it to 1863). In fact, there is no rule against using a noun attributively. Moreover, even the most descriptive (as opposed to proscriptive) dictionaries tend to flag bad grammar, and none that I’ve checked note any objections to using woman as a modifier. So the question is one of usage—why is woman used attributively so much more often than man?—and not one of grammar.


Source: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org...ge/faq0018.html

Grammar Girl: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/ed...versus-female-0

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/18/o...43390.html?_r=0



Questions to Consider:

01. Do you use female, woman, or neither?
02. Do you find the term female degrading when referring to humans?
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#2 Old 25th Aug 2015 at 3:24 AM
I personally don't think there is anything wrong with using female as an adjective. I think that 'female' is only problematic in certain situations. For example "I saw a group of females" instead of "I saw a group of women." You wouldn't say "I saw a group of males." "females," in that sentence, could be seen as derogatory or sexist. Another example is "females always do this" which doesn't bother me but I could see how it could bother some people, instead of saying "women always do this." But saying "female president" would not be in any way problematic in my opinion. Unless you run into a radical feminist you should be fine. I can understand if you're male not wanting to offend anyone but I think it's okay, or I know that for me and most, if not all, of my female (heh) friends it's fine to use female as an adjective.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
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Mad Poster
Original Poster
#3 Old 25th Aug 2015 at 3:43 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by efolger997
I personally don't think there is anything wrong with using female as an adjective. I think that 'female' is only problematic in certain situations. For example "I saw a group of females" instead of "I saw a group of women." You wouldn't say "I saw a group of males." "females," in that sentence, could be seen as derogatory or sexist. Another example is "females always do this" which doesn't bother me but I could see how it could bother some people, instead of saying "women always do this." But saying "female president" would not be in any way problematic in my opinion. Unless you run into a radical feminist you should be fine. I can understand if you're male not wanting to offend anyone but I think it's okay, or I know that for me and most, if not all, of my female (heh) friends it's fine to use female as an adjective.


Your post reassures me because I was beginning to think of this debate as dealing with an epidemic of some sort, one that I needed to know about. Because I am not female or identify as female, I don't know what it's like when it comes to sexism against women. However, I always try to be respectful. You're right about radical feminists, but the confusion comes when not knowing what particular issue is radical or not. For example, women who want the earth populated with just women would be considered radical, so that one is obvious to me. The debate I brought up isn't as obvious to me. What about the womyn spelling? Would that be a radical-feminist issue? I have no idea, but for some reason, I can't get myself to spell woman/women that way because it is widely ungrammatical. Though, I do think it sucks that man and male are attached to certain feminine words. That's why I like forums because you get all sorts of opinions. While I'm interested in anyone's opinion, I'm particularly interested in girls'/women's opinions for obvious reasons.
Top Secret Researcher
#4 Old 25th Aug 2015 at 5:10 AM
I wouldn't go with womyn, since that is commonly associated with the rabid feminists. (The word 'radical' means to fundamentally change how things work, so I don't agree with only using that for the people with insane ideas.) Plenty of other people use it, but the general population is going to view it that way. It's probably better to try to change the way people think than to insist they alter existing words for a cause that even a lot of normal feminists find a bit odd. I mean, feminism is about equality, not segregation.

At the same time, 'female' is not really a noun to use for people. 'Woman' means 'female person', but like you said, 'female' is used for objects and animals. It's fine to say 'female person', like 'female president', but only if it's important to specify the gender. For example, it's important to talk about the first female president of a company, because the fact that she's female is important. However, it's not important that the doctor sticking a needle in your arm is female (except for dealing with those darned gendered pronouns). Specifying that she's female makes it sound more important than it is, which makes it seem like you're either assuming that men are the default or that it's surprising that a woman is a doctor.

It's mostly a matter of conservation of details. If you mention it, it's either important or unusual.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#5 Old 25th Aug 2015 at 5:20 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by hugbug993
I wouldn't go with womyn, since that is commonly associated with the rabid feminists. (The word 'radical' means to fundamentally change how things work, so I don't agree with only using that for the people with insane ideas.) Plenty of other people use it, but the general population is going to view it that way. It's probably better to try to change the way people think than to insist they alter existing words for a cause that even a lot of normal feminists find a bit odd. I mean, feminism is about equality, not segregation.

At the same time, 'female' is not really a noun to use for people. 'Woman' means 'female person', but like you said, 'female' is used for objects and animals. It's fine to say 'female person', like 'female president', but only if it's important to specify the gender. For example, it's important to talk about the first female president of a company, because the fact that she's female is important. However, it's not important that the doctor sticking a needle in your arm is female (except for dealing with those darned gendered pronouns). Specifying that she's female makes it sound more important than it is, which makes it seem like you're either assuming that men are the default or that it's surprising that a woman is a doctor.

It's mostly a matter of conservation of details. If you mention it, it's either important or unusual.


You make a very good point. I have wondered about using indefinite articles with male/female because many people do, but it seems ungrammatically. I agree about specifying the gender out of importance. And thanks for the womyn factor. I figured there had to be other women who found it unnecessary, but I wasn't sure. I've read that one should no longer use actress, waitress, and songstress, among others, to preserve a gender-neutral style of language. I'm guilty of such words, but I think I will change that from now on.
Forum Resident
#6 Old 27th Aug 2015 at 5:00 PM
To answer the main point, I agree with efolger997 -- I think it's ok to use female as an adjective but not as a noun when referring to people. As a writer and a woman, I think using "woman" as an adjective sounds clunky and off-putting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie
What about the womyn spelling? Would that be a radical-feminist issue? I have no idea, but for some reason, I can't get myself to spell woman/women that way because it is widely ungrammatical. Though, I do think it sucks that man and male are attached to certain feminine words.

About this, I just wanted to bring up an interesting point about the construction of the words "woman" and "female" -- in my own mind, I don't really think of them as including "man" and "male" in the words. I see them as separate but related words. Of course, I know that this isn't really the way the words are constructed etymologically, but it's interesting to take the hypothetical position that "woman" and "female" are whole words by themselves, while "man" and "male" are just derivatives or fragments of them. If this was true, would men then be offended that the words that refer to their sex are just shorter pieces of those longer words? Would they start trying to spell "man" differently? It's just odd to me.
Top Secret Researcher
#7 Old 27th Aug 2015 at 5:36 PM
Neither word is actually related to 'man' or 'male'.

Etymologically, woman literally means 'female person'.

Back in the Old, Old English days, the word for man was 'wer' (like in werewolf), the word for woman was 'wif', and the gender-neutral word for person was 'mann'. Woman comes from the word 'wifmann', which literally means 'female person'. 'Mann', on the other hand, was commonly used to refer to men because men were more likely to be described, so it gradually became known as the modern form.

'Female', on the other hand, comes through the French 'femelle' and the Medieval Latin 'femella' from the Latin word 'femina'. That in turn comes from PIE 'femana', which roughly means 'the one who does the breastfeeding'.

'Male', on the other hand, comes through the French 'masle' from the Latin 'masculus'. 'Mas' means man, and '-culus' is a diminutive. Funny enough, 'masculine' technically means 'little man'. Even worse, the word 'mas' comes from is the PIE 'meryo', which itself means 'little man', so the word technically means 'little little man'.

But it looks like 'male' and 'female' just had a case of convergent evolution, while 'man' outpaced 'woman' as it evolved.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#8 Old 27th Aug 2015 at 6:05 PM
Best_Leopard, I see your point, but I only mentioned "man/male" because of the radical feminists. I mean, "womyn" and "fem" really do show you how these kinds of feminists think. I guess just the fact that the words look related to the opposite sex is enough to cause them to change the spelling. They literally want nothing to do with men, including names and words.

Oddly enough, the level of sexism is different with the opposite sex, which is chauvinistic men, and they don't change spellings of words and are more likely to use "he" instead of "he/she" when speaking in general. And there's the gay side of it. I've met sexist gay men who wished for an all-male world for different reasons from radical feminists wishing for an all-female world. One is sexual, the other is power. I can't stand radical thinking.

hugbug993, I read about that this year. I'd always wondered where "werewolf" came from. But where did the extra E come from? Sadly, with your enlightening explanation, I doubt many radical feminists will see that "man" never originally meant the opposite sex. Though, it does now, but still. I wonder if some feminists will start spelling "female" as "femelle," since it's closer in pronunciation than the other words, especially instead of chopping off "male" in favor of "fem" like some already do. "Chairman" to "chairperson" is one thing; "female" to "fem" is another. Or why not use "femme" as in "femme fatale?" We already borrow a slew of French words as it is.

Besides, instead of "fem," why not "fe?" If you're going to get rid of the man completely, you might as well be consistent and thorough.
Forum Resident
#9 Old 27th Aug 2015 at 6:14 PM
Ah, yes, frankie. My post was in reply to you, but not really to undermine your point. I just thought I'd share a point of view on the same topic. I agree with your dislike of radical thinking.

And thank you, hugbug993, for the actual etymology; I had only a vague recollection and wasn't confident to start talking about it, but had no time to look it up.
Top Secret Researcher
#10 Old 27th Aug 2015 at 7:46 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie
Best_Leopard, I see your point, but I only mentioned "man/male" because of the radical feminists. I mean, "womyn" and "fem" really do show you how these kinds of feminists think. I guess just the fact that the words look related to the opposite sex is enough to cause them to change the spelling. They literally want nothing to do with men, including names and words.


Or they're too lazy to look up the etymology.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie
hugbug993, I read about that this year. I'd always wondered where "werewolf" came from. But where did the extra E come from?


Spellings weren't really defined in Old English. You just picked a spelling that sounded like the word and you stuck with it. Or not. Shakespeare himself spelled his name a ton of different ways, but 'Shakspear' was the most common.

'Wer' is how it was often spelled, but it could also be 'wher', 'were', or even 'where'. So someone could easily have decided that 'werewolf' was prettier than 'werwolf' and then stuck with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie
Sadly, with your enlightening explanation, I doubt many radical feminists will see that "man" never originally meant the opposite sex. Though, it does now, but still. I wonder if some feminists will start spelling "female" as "femelle," since it's closer in pronunciation than the other words, especially instead of chopping off "male" in favor of "fem" like some already do. "Chairman" to "chairperson" is one thing; "female" to "fem" is another. Or why not use "femme" as in "femme fatale?" We already borrow a slew of French words as it is.

Besides, instead of "fem," why not "fe?" If you're going to get rid of the man completely, you might as well be consistent and thorough.


Because 'fem' has fewer letters. We've already gone from doughnut to donut or omelette to omelet, and gotten rid of all those terrible, unnecessary u's, so why not shave a couple letters off 'femme'?

And 'fe' looks like it should be pronunced 'fee', which would probably bring prostitution to mind.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Mad Poster
#11 Old 27th Aug 2015 at 7:52 PM Last edited by simmer22 : 29th Aug 2015 at 12:17 AM.
Regarding the first question, using female or woman in front of a word like activist, or judge or firefighter, or whatever - to me, it sounds weird saying "woman activist" or "man activist". Using female/male to describe the gender of the person sounds better. You don't say "two woman cats" or "man cat". In my opinion (and probably most grammar books), female/male is used for describing the gender of a noun (adjective in that setting), and man/woman are nouns.

You rarely say "That's a female" without at least suggesting there is supposed to be a noun there. "Female" or "male" doesn't say anything more than the gender. It could be a human, but it could just as well be a monkey or a fish. You can point to a fish and say out loud "that's the female," but since you're pointing at the fish, what you're actually saying is "that's the female (fish)." You can say "it's a female/male child", but saying "a woman/man child" is a bit off, since woman and man usually means the adult humans.

So basically I'm a bit opposed to using woman/man instead of female/male. I also don't see the problem. There isn't any real difference in "female" activist and "woman" activist, except for whether or not there's a grammar mistake. Both versions mean you are a woman and an activist. If you don't want to confuse gender roles into what you do, use the already gender-neutral 'activist'. Activists do come as both genders, so why is there a need to genderize it in the first place? If you're talking about an activist that works for women's rights, then you're still an activist. Men can work for the same cause, but they can't exactly call themselves a man/male activist in that setting, or what?

I get why you'd in some cases feel the need to genderize some words, like 'male nurse', because it's so worked into the minds of people that a nurse is supposed to be female (to nurse = something women do to feed their babies). In my language there is a female and a neutral version, much more describing (basically meaning a person caring for the sick), and the neutral version is what's used nowadays. There's still a diversion in which gender 'rules' the area, with perhaps less than 10% men, and also which way people go after their basic education is over - men often tend to go the way of ambulance, anesthesia, and acute medicine, while women tend to be more all-rounders. But that's probably not going to change much. The thing that is changing is social acceptance for men going into thypical female career paths, and women going into thypical male career paths. So if you want to present yourself as a male nurse or a female firefighter, that's fine - but it's not like you have to. Just don't say man nurse or woman firefighter, because those can come off with a slightly different meaning (man nurse = nurse working for men only? And would you be a 'cat firefighter' if all you do is getting cats out of trees?)

On a slightly random note, I don't think we've got all-use gender words like female and male for non-humans in my language. We can say 'womanly' or 'manly' but usually only use them in human terms. We don't say a 'womanly cat' for a cat of the female gender. Instead, we mostly use the equivalent of he or she (he-cat or she-cat). We do however have genderized prefixes, regardless of whether they're female/male or don't have a gender, but more in tune to how the word sounds, so it can get confusing if you're not used to it (The only logical ones are 'man' and 'boy' because that's always the male form. 'Woman' and 'girl' can technically have both the male and female prefix, depending on language version. A mouse isn't an 'it' but a 'she', but using a different language form it can also be a 'he', and it's the same with an orange. A house is always an 'it', but a car is always a 'he', even if a car technically is an 'it' with no gender. The words also change according to how many of said item you're talking about - where you just put on an 's' in the end, we've got several different endings according to the gender of the word and language form. Good luck figuring the rest out . In English you've got 'an' and 'a' with a very simple rule with vowel sounds (yes, simple - vowel sound is an, the rest is a), while we've got several different prefixes, with no apparent logical reasoning - we actually have a few sets, but that's for specially interested, technically not very useful, and only suffices to confuse even inborn citizens).
Field Researcher
#13 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 1:53 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie
Some sites mention that it's a feminist issue because female is being used more scientifically/biologically or for animals, and being reduced to an animal or less human is degrading.


Going off at a bit of a tangent here, but from an anti-speciesist perspective, any talk of 'being reduced to an animal' is just so much anthroposupremacist claptrap. People - male or female - already are animals, and therefore cannot be 'reduced' to being such.
Field Researcher
#15 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 2:50 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlatinumPlumbbob
畜牲 is an insult in Chinese. Interestingly, it literally means to denigrate humans to the rank of animals. 做人 means to conduct oneself well, even though it literally means "make [oneself] a human being". Just saying that this tendency to differentiate the human race from other species is a global phenomenon.


Yep, I'd expect it to be near on universal if not totally so. It's common enough in English, where we routinely talk of 'feral youth' or unruly persons 'behaving like animals'. Certain species have particularly pejorative connotations, which always reminds me of the cartoon of one rat glaring at another and saying "You killed my brother, you dirty Cagney."
Top Secret Researcher
#16 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 3:55 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnian
Going off at a bit of a tangent here, but from an anti-speciesist perspective, any talk of 'being reduced to an animal' is just so much anthroposupremacist claptrap. People - male or female - already are animals, and therefore cannot be 'reduced' to being such.


Technically, yes, but that's not how the word is commonly used. If you say 'animal', then people will assume you're talking about a non-human creature. In fact, there are some people who disagree with using the word 'animal' for apes and pets, because apes are intellectually and emotionally similar to human children and people are more emotionally attached to pets. It carries a connotation of being less than human, and even using it for apes and pets is upsetting.

Sure, it does mean 'living creature' (translating as literally as possible, it means a thing that breathes), but it's picked up negative connotations in the last few thousand years.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Forum Resident
#17 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 5:21 AM
I am having issues with people judging based on other person's literal expressions, without trying to learn first what that person's motivation is. I don't like that because there is always the possibility that someone is not good with language, which obviously can lead to misunderstandings. (and because of my condition I know how I sometimes create misunderstandings and be wrongfully accused).

I find the expression 'I saw a bunch of females' a good example of this. It could be because my first language isn't English, but for me it is possible to say that by accident while I actually try to say women. In my case the reason is that in my language there is not a distinction like that (feminists probably think we are barbarians ). So it is then an easy mistake to make in English for me (for a second forgetting that there are two options). Is it possible that an english speaking person can make the same mistake by accident?
Anyway, I always watch out for attaching an assumption to what someone said.

As for starting to use woman instead of female, I find this ridiculous for the simple reason that it doesn't actually change the meaning of the sentence. You are just making up new semantics. Someone else already explained why (people are already animals,so can't be reduced as such) the meaning doesn't change. I hate it when people start to mess with language for that reason. It is like trying to create traps for others to fall into, so they can be accused morally.
Top Secret Researcher
#18 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 8:35 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mithrak_nl
Is it possible that an english speaking person can make the same mistake by accident?


Yes. The way you tell the difference is that someone with good intentions who accidentally insults someone will apologize when it comes up. People who don't have good intentions will immediately launch into a rant about making up reasons to be offended when they're corrected, because they're assholes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mithrak_nl
You are just making up new semantics. Someone else already explained why (people are already animals,so can't be reduced as such) the meaning doesn't change. I hate it when people start to mess with language for that reason. It is like trying to create traps for others to fall into, so they can be accused morally.


That's a ridiculous statement.

Firstly, the word 'female' as a noun is used for animals and objects. Humans are not objects. There has already been a discussion of what meaning 'animal' has attached to it, so you should have seen it.

Secondly, the connotations already exist. That is because language tends to do this thing called 'changing', and sometimes it's no longer acceptable to use words to describe something. For example, it's no longer acceptable in English to call African Americans 'negros', because that's what people called them when they were slaves. It would have been fine to continue using the word if it was never given the connotation of slavery, but that's how it is.

Third, do you really think that people wake up one say and say, "Hey, let's screw with people by making everyone unable to say 'female'!" Seriously, what does anyone have to gain from that? That's the stupidest conspiracy theory I've ever heard, and I once talked to a guy who tried to use OJ Simpson's trial as proof of spontaneous cloning.

Fourth, there is this thing called 'apologies' that you can use if you say something wrong. That will keep people from thinking badly of you.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Top Secret Researcher
#19 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 8:44 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mithrak_nl
As for starting to use woman instead of female, I find this ridiculous for the simple reason that it doesn't actually change the meaning of the sentence.

I speak English as a first language and I disagree. Using "female" as a noun in place of "woman" has connotations that, to fluent English speakers, are different. That is, they convey different meanings. Other posts in this thread have attempted to explain the difference.

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Forum Resident
#21 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 5:39 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlatinumPlumbbob
Contrition does not have to be verbal or oral. Sometimes, you get the feeling that someone is sorry by the tone of his voice or facial expressions or body language. Of course, as with many things in life, that is not always a guarantee. One must be mindful of the fact that some people do not express overt emotion and/or a brief sorry. For some people, they may feel at a loss, so they may do something special for the wronged person (like delivering gifts), though they may be turned down because the wronged person may misunderstand the intention and refuse.

I am not saying that people shouldn't say sorries. They should, but it is important to remember that different people have different ways of expressing sorry, which may be misunderstood.


Thank you for that. You just explained how I end up causing misunderstandings. Mainly because I have trouble responding sometimes in a convential way, causing others to misinterpret my reaction because they expect a convential reaction (I am told for example that my body language can be way out there :p). I understand why, but still find it very annoying if I am misunderstood in those situations. Not that I am the one bringing gifts though.
Forum Resident
#22 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 5:48 PM
"As for starting to use woman instead of female, I find this ridiculous for the simple reason that it doesn't actually change the meaning of the sentence. You are just making up new semantics. Someone else already explained why (people are already animals,so can't be reduced as such) the meaning doesn't change. I hate it when people start to mess with language for that reason. It is like trying to create traps for others to fall into, so they can be accused morally. "

I should have specified, that I was referring to the OP and only meant when used as adjective and not as noun. I should have added that, sorry. I don't know how to add quotes from different posts in one of my posts, so I stop now. People are now jumping on me for thinking I meant my comment for when using woman as noun.

And the reaction that said that language has already changed, is something different then finding it ridiculous that the change was introduced at some point (using woman as adjective as stated in OP).
Field Researcher
#23 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 8:13 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie
But over the past several years, I've been hearing/reading woman as an adjective more than ever: woman doctor, woman president, woman judge, etc. Many people believe this is ungrammatical whereas others don't because of its being an appositive noun. Some dictionaries accept it whereas others don't.


My impression is that 'woman' as an adjective is a relatively recent innovation which has yet to gain widespread acceptance, hence the disagreements between different people, different dictionaries, etc. Either it will establish itself and become the norm, or it will wither and die out. My money's on the first.

FWIW, 'man' can be used as an adjective. We have 'man flu' (a mild viral infection which is nowhere near as debilitating as the sufferer makes it out to be), a potato snack in the UK which until recently was touting itself as 'Man Crisps!', and there was a BBC radio presenter who was fond of recalling the time he lived on a houseboat and came home from the pub one frosty night to find he could only get in the boat by thawing out the hatch with 'man water'.

Quote:
This issue is important to me because I'm a writer, and I feel as if it were a double-edged sword. On one hand, I don't want to appear ungrammatical with my choice.


As a writer you should be aware that language is flexible, and that this very flexibility is one of its most powerful tools. Nouns can be turned into adjectives or verbs, or vice versa, to create uniquely new expressions.

If you're writing professionally for a publication (newspaper or whatever) they should have a guide to their own house style detailing what they consider to be acceptable, unacceptable, preferred or whatever. Otherwise you're free to write whatever you want however you want, with no need to get bogged down in grammatical niceties. So long as your meaning is clear, anything goes.
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#24 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 8:19 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnian
My impression is that 'woman' as an adjective is a relatively recent innovation which has yet to gain widespread acceptance, hence the disagreements between different people, different dictionaries, etc. Either it will establish itself and become the norm, or it will wither and die out. My money's on the first.

FWIW, 'man' can be used as an adjective. We have 'man flu' (a mild viral infection which is nowhere near as debilitating as the sufferer makes it out to be), a potato snack in the UK which until recently was touting itself as 'Man Crisps!', and there was a BBC radio presenter who was fond of recalling the time he lived on a houseboat and came home from the pub one frosty night to find he could only get in the boat by thawing out the hatch with 'man water'.



As a writer you should be aware that language is flexible, and that this very flexibility is one of its most powerful tools. Nouns can be turned into adjectives or verbs, or vice versa, to create uniquely new expressions.

If you're writing professionally for a publication (newspaper or whatever) they should have a guide to their own house style detailing what they consider to be acceptable, unacceptable, preferred or whatever. Otherwise you're free to write whatever you want however you want, with no need to get bogged down in grammatical niceties. So long as your meaning is clear, anything goes.


Thanks for your enlightening post. I write fiction, so I guess I have more leeway to a certain extent.
Top Secret Researcher
#25 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 9:57 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie
Thanks for your enlightening post. I write fiction, so I guess I have more leeway to a certain extent.

... which makes it totally appropriate that you're seeking information about what shades of meaning you'd be able to convey by various possible uses of that leeway.

Ronnie de Noube - Comic and Blog; Sim National Laboratories and our Protein Folding Team.
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