The stand of various beings, as well as human beings, is mirrored in many areas of superstructure, for exemple in law, in art, in literature, in religion. This is a truism, and a lot of research has been undertaken οn this field. In our exposition we shall investigate the way man and woman are depicted in language.
On the other hand, the way a man or a woman uses language is sometimes very characteristic of their sex. Society puts certain demands on how one is permitted to use the language.
A. Depiction in language
Ferdinand de Saussure has assured that language is an arbitrary sign system, not conditioned. That means that there is no logical ground why the English should choose the word cat to denote the idea of this animal any more than the Greek should choose the word cat and the Japanese the word ike. Despite that, the derivation of certain words, with the connotations emanating from them, may prove a fruitful source of inspiration as to the attitude people have about things signified by them.
1. Letʼs take first «woman», as depicted in various languages. The word γυναίκα is derived from the word γεννώ. The word ;tyf in Russian is a possible derivation from the Greek γεννώ. In czech we have also the word zena. The same thing must be in other slavonic langages as well. That means that in the representational system of these people woman is primarily the one who gives birth to the chidren, the one who cares, or is more responsible, for the procreation of humanity.
2. The words for man, άνδρας in Greek and ve; in Russian, on the other hand, stand on their own.
In English the word for man, deriving from the latin adjective of homo, humanus, stand for all human beings, both men and women, when there is no need to make a distinction of the sex. In English especially it is quite indicative that the word «woman» is a derivative of the word «man», formed with the addition of the prefix «wo» to the word «man», quite proportionate to the myth of human generation found in the Bible. She is evidently like a planet going round the sun-man, completely dependent on him. Isnʼt woman constantly «woo-ing» him, trying with an excess of cosmetics to draw his attention?» (We mean it as a wordplay, of course).
There is still a stronger indication that «man» stands for human beings collectively, the word «mankind». The germans respectively have the word «manschaft». The languages originating from Latin also use the word for man (Homme, uomo, hombre, coming from homo) in the sense both of man and human being. The same languages still use the latin adjective to denote mankind: humanité, umanita, umanidad, the English word «humanity» being a loan from them. The same thing applies in Greek with the word ανθρωπότης.
New Greek seems to be an exception, using the word άνδρας to denote only the male. However, it is even today the word παιδί (child) widely used in the country to denote «boy». It is said, for example, of a family having two παιδιά and two κορίτσια, meaning two boys and two girls.
3. From the derivations and denotations letʼs pass to metaphorical uses and connotations. The word «manly» stands almost in all western languages for bravery: ανδρείoς, mannhaft, ve;tcndtyybq. Manhood is a synonym for «bravery». In French there is the metaphorical expression «Il a agit en homme», he acted like a man, that is bravely. On the contrary womanly means cowardice.
4. The linguistic indications of how man and woman are depicted in ideogramic languages is far richer, since these languages form their words using a limited number of basic ideograms and even fewer radicals, always containing meaning. We will examine the Chinese and Japanese language. Many of the Chinese ideograms have passed into the Japanese language as «kanjis».
In the Oxford English-Chinese and Chinese-English dictionary, the 18th radical 人 denotes «man» and the 65th 女 denotes «woman». From these radicals the «woman» radical is used in quite a lot of ideograms.
Quite characteristic is the ideogram «an» 安 which is formed by the radical denoting roof and underneath the radical denoting woman. Its basic meanings are tranquility and the similar (calm, quietness, etc.) satisfaction and safety. In composition we have similar words like anfu, 安抚 console, anjia, 安家settle, anding, 安定stable, anhao 安好, safe and sound, anjing 安静, quiet, peaceful, anning 安宁, tranquil, anquan 安全, safe, anran 安然, safely, anshen 安身, take shelter, anwei 安慰,
comfort, anxin 安心, feel at ease, etc.
5. Other ideograms used to depict words associated with man and woman are also indicative.
The ancient Chinese word jianei, 家内denoting wife, has passed in Japanese, pronounced kanai. The first ideogram denotes house and the second denotes inside.
6. The ideograms for woman 女 and boy 子 taken together
女子, mean «woman». (In reverse order they mean «boy and girl, children»). Taken in close composition 好 (hao) they mean «good». It seems that the quality of goodness is considered by the Chinese a woman attribute, in contrast to the man who is usually aggressive and ferocious, attributes demanded from him by the community, quite necessary for its survival, especially in primitive times.
7. The similarity between the ideograms denoting man 男and braveness 勇,both in Japanese and in Chinese, may not be accidental.
In summary, the main manly attribute is bravery and the main womanly attribute is peacefulness.
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