Unit 11
Semantic Development of Words
for Each Sex and What It Shows
1) A word once
reserved for female
persons in high places
is generalised to refer
to people of all levels
in a society:
The titles of women are more likely
to undergo this generalisation than
the titles of men.
For instance, under the entry "lord"
in Collins Cobuild English
Language Dictionary (CCELD), ten
meanings are listed, all associated
with nobility, authority and power.
However, its counterpart "lady" is
not so fortunate as to be reserved
specially for the females of nobility.
Lord is the title used in front of
the name of British earls,
viscounts, marquesses, etc.
In Britain, you address a man as
“ My Lord” when he is a judge or
bishop, or if he is an earl,
viscount, marquess, etc.
The word “lord” is also used as part of
the title of certain officials of very high
rank in Britain.
If someone “lords it over” you, they act
in a way that shows that they are better
than you.
A “lord” is a man who has a high
rank in the British nobility.
In former times, especially in
medieval times, a “lord’ was a
man who owned land or
property and who had power and
authority over other people.
The “Lords” is the House Lords;
used in slightly informal British
English. In the Christian church,
“Lord” is used to refer to god and
to Jesus Christ.
In the 19th century, George Eliot
described “lady” in Silas Marner
( 1851 ) as:
" She had the essential attributes
of a lady--- high veracity, delicate
honour in her dealings, deference
to others,and refined personal
habits."
Here, the connotation of " woman of
refinement " can be felt. However, now,
the connotations of the word
"lady " are rather different
from those of the word
"lord" or "gentleman". As far
as usage is concerned,"lady"
is in many respects actually
an equivalent to " man".
Shop assistants in Britain may be
referred to as "sales ladies", but not
"sales gentlemen", or " sales lords".
"ladies'wear " can
be found for sale
alongside "men's
wear".
“cleaning lady ” , “cleaning man”
and “cleaning woman” are good
English,but not “cleaning
gentleman” or “cleaning lord”
From these examples, it is evident
that the term "lady" has undergone
pejoration, lost its original glory and
become a title for every female.
2) Some female terms
reserved for female
persons in high places
have
slipped
past
respectable women, and
acquired
obscene
references:
The older use of " Madam" as a form
of address showing respect still
survives as in the greetings by shop
assistants, hairdressers and waiters or
at the beginning of official letters,
however,its primary meaning has
changed to " a keeper and procurer of
women for men to use for sexual
purposes "( Elaine Chaika,1982)
The same fate has also befallen
"mistress", a title which used to be
the counterpart of
"Master".
According to CCELD (p.926), a
man's mistress is now " a woman
who he has a sexual relationship with
but is not married to", as is shown in
the example:
He keeps a mistress.
King and Queen
A king is a crowned head.
But queen has unfavourable
meanings. The first is " male
homosexual who acts like a
woman". A female homosexual
who acts like a man is not called
a king, however. Rather, she
becomes a butch, an older
nickname for a tough, lower
class boy.
Master/mistress
These were once
counterparts of each
other, as shown in the
children's rhyme "
Mistress Mary quite
contrary, how does your
garden grow?"
The modern Mrs. was originally
an abbreviation of Mistress,
although today they can seldom,
i f e v e r, b e i n t e r c h a n g e d .
Rare survivals of the original
meaning of mistress do occur, as in :
" The walls are full of pictures of
famous people, all of them
autographed to the mistress of the
house, former movie star Shirley
T e m p l e
B l a c k " .
The first meaning of mistress today
is " woman kept by a man for sexual
purposes." It is probably not without
significance that the
surviving pronunciation
for th e abbreviated
spelling Mrs, hides the
original derivation from
m i s t r e s s .
Governor/Governess
Although governor degenerated briefly
in nineteenth-century Cockney slang, the
term still refers to men who “ exercise a
sovereign authority in a colony, territory,
or state". A governess, on the other hand,
is chiefly "a nursemaid", operating in a
realm much diminished from that of Queen
Elizabeth I, who was acknowledged to be
"the supreme majesty and governess of all
persons" ( OED )
In such words the female term does
not take on an immoral sexual
connotation, but , instead, adding
the feminine ending makes it
applicable to a more trivial or lowranking function
than its male
counterpart.
In the above example, the actual role
denoted is different, but in some words
denoting identical functions the
feminine ending often carried the
implications of less seriousness, as in
poetess, sculptress, authoress.
Apparently for this reason, many of the
older-ess words are rarely used today.
Racial terms like Jewess or Negress
sound archaic now. It is not without
significance that in earlier times,
females of he despised minority groups
were designated with the -ess endings,
much like females of animals species
( lioness, tigress). There was never, so
far as I can tell, *Christianess,
*Frenchness,
*Italianess,
*Caucasianess.
Uncle/Aunt
Aunt was generalised first to mean
“ an old woman” and then " a bawd or
a prostitute". It is the latter meaning
which Shakespeare draws upon in lines:
" Summer songs for me and my aunts/
As we lie tumbling in the hay"
( Winter's Tale, IV,3,11-12 ).
Man / Woman
“man” and “woman”are not symmetric in
meaning. While “man” can be used to
refer to a servant, it can also be used to
refer to a person of high social status, but
the word “woman” can not be used to
stand for a female of high social status :
Do you know that a man must be either
a man or a mouse?
“man” also contains the meanings of
“courage” , “ endurance” , “ control”.
This is especially true when it is used as a
verb.
Well, I must man it out.
( to bear up manfully)
Only that is poetry which cleanses and
mans me.
(to fortify the spirit )
Happy is your soul if Christ man the
house…and command all.
Collins English Dictionary woman”进行释义
时,没有一条释义可以表明 “woman”具
有“重要人物”之意。只要是“妇女”似
乎就一定“缺乏勇气”,“胆小如鼠”。
虽然Collins English Dictionary并没有明确
指出妇女的本性是懦弱,但是这本字典对
“woman”提供了如下第六条释义: “a
man
considered
as
having
female
characteristics, such as meekness or
cowardliness.”,即“具有诸如懦弱,胆小
等女性性格的男性”。从这一定义中不难
看出这一蕴意。
In English , “ woman” not only
means“a female servant” , but also“a
mistress”. “woman of the street” is a
“prostitute”.
Cf:
She is my woman, so don’t mess
with her.
* She is my lady, so don’t mess
with her.
3) The terms which
originated from the
words denoting either
sex undergo pejoration
when used specifically
to females now:
Harlot?
Often , when they began to
undergo pejoration they
referred only to women.
Take "harlot" for example,
it was originally a fellow of
either sex, referring more
to men than to women in
Middle English.
Then, it degenerated further.
Shakespeare's harlot king (Winter's
Tale II) was characterised as "lewd".
However, after Elithabethan times,
the word was specialised for women
only, meaning first "a disreputable
woman" and later " a prostitute".
T h e wo r d " g o ss i p" h a s a l s o
experienced the same pejoration.
Originally, the old English
word that lies behind
"gossip"(godsibb) meant " a
godfather or god mother".
This usage can be found in
Evelyn's Diary (1649), who
once described a child's
parents as " being so poor
that they had provided no
gossips for its christening".
Because godparent was a familiar
figure to every family, it
gradually took up the meaning of
"well-known acquaintance" by
the 14th century, with its original
meaning gradually forgotten.
Later, in A Midsummer Night's
Dream (1590), Shakespeare used "
gossip" to refer particularly to a
woman's female friends who had
been invited to be present at a
birth. He was also the first to use
it as a verb, as in:
With all my heart, I'll gossip at this feast.
( The Comedy of Errors 1590 )
It is from this use that
word has come to
mean " talk idly" and
specially associated
itself with women.
4) The same terms change meanings
when applied to each gender:
Consider " tramp " for example.
CCELD (p.1553) defines its meaning
as " a person who has no home or
permanent job and very little money"
or " a woman who is thought to have
sex with a lot of men."
While a person who is
homeless, jobless and poor
may be a female, a male tramp
is generally understood as
having no job or no home,
however, a female tramp is
often interpreted as a loose
woman. A loose man is casual,
but a loose woman is one who
has sex with many men.
Take " Professional " for another
example. If you say that a man is a
" professional ", you suggest that
he is a member of one of the
respected professions. If you call a
woman " a professional", the
implication of her following the
oldest profession is dropped.
“pirate”:
1) a person, especially in former
times, who sailed on the sea and
stole from other people’s ships.
2) someone who take and use
someone else’s work or property
without having the right to do so.
3) a person or a company that
broadcasts illegally.
2.近义词使用与性别歧视
性别歧视不只是表现在词的语义变化之中,
它也表现在词的选择和搭配之中。交际中
准确选词十分重要,这是因为同一个事物
或概念等在一个社会中有时会有不同的两
个或两个以上的词从不同的角度去承载这
些语义。各近义词之间客观上存在的细微
差异可能是所指语义上的, 也可以是社
会意义,情感意义等方面的。 对这些词
的研究同样从一个侧面揭示出妇女在社会
中的形象。
以 英 语 的 “ talk” 为 例 , 它 的 相 关 词 有
“chat”, “gossip”, “nag”, “gabble”, “prattle”,
“babble”, “chatter” 等。 根据Collins English
Dictionary, 它们的所指语义为:
Chat: to talk in an easy familiar way
gossip: to talk casually, idly and maliciously
about other people
nag: to scold or annoy constantly
gabble: to utter words rapidly and indistinctly
prattle: to talk in a foolish or childish way
babble:
to talk foolishly, incessantly or
irrelevantly
chatter: to speak ( about unimportant matters)
rapidly and incessantly
从以上定义不难看出, 所有这些词汇表示
的都是一种无聊的,无实际性内容的闲谈,
不包含任何“以学术为目的”的,或“以
商业事务为目的的交谈或谈判”之意。所
有这些词汇都蕴有 “not desirable” 和
“stupid” 之意。有些词, 如: “prattle”,
“babble”和 “chatter”还具有 “childish”的
意思;而另一些词,如:“gossip”和
“nag”还具有 “triviality” 和 “nastiness”
的
意
思
。
那么这些词在字典中的使用情况又是怎样的
呢?
以 Chambers Universal Learners’ Dictionary
(1980, edited by EM Kirkputrick, Chambers
Ltd. Edinburgn) 为例:
Chat:
They chatted about the weather.
We had a chat over coffee yesterday.
He says women’s chat bores him.
Gossip:
I never pay attention to gossip.
She dropped in for a cup of coffee and a
gossip.
She is a dreadful gossip.
I don’t like people who gossip.
She spends the whole day gossiping with
her neighbors.
Nag:
She nags (at) her husband about their
lack of money.
Gabble:
She was so upset, she was just gabbling.
The lady was obviously upset as she
gabbled out her story to the policeman.
Prattle:
She prattled on about nothing.
Babble:
The speaker was babbling in a language I
couldn’t understand.
What are you babbling about now?
Chatter:
The children chattered when the teacher
left the room.
Words
Chambers Universal Learners’ Dictionary
例数
阳性
阴性
中性
Chat
3
0
1
2
Gossip
5
0
3
2
Nag
1
0
1
0
Gabble
2
0
2
0
Prattle
1
0
1
0
Babble
2
0
0
2
Chatter
1
0
0
1
英语用以专指男性闲聊的词组有两个:
“shoot the breeze” 和 “chew the fat”。
“shoot the breeze”的意思是“闲聊”,
“为闲聊而相聚”。这是第二次世界大
战用语。当时 “闲聊”往事成为军人上
船后或限制留在基地时最喜爱的消遣,
尤指感伤地思索或述说夸大往事。
“chew the fat” 的意思是 “闲聊”,“争
论”。从语义成分分析来看,无论是
“shoot the breeze”,还是“chew the fat”,
它 们 有 着 共 同 的 语 义 成 分 : [+male,
+power, +potency, +activity], 与经常形容
女性闲聊的词相比,显然这两个用以指
代男性的表达法并不含有任何[+nastiness,
+childishness] 或 [+bad]的言外之意。
3.语义属从关系与性别歧视
Poole (1646:21)points out: “The
Masculine gender is more worthy than
the Femine.”。
John Kirby (1746:117)writes in his
book “ New English Grammar” :The
Masculine Person answers to the
general Name, which comprehends
both Male and Female;
Even now some language experts still hold
that he is an unmarked term.
he:
the masculine singular pronoun of the
third person; the man or male being.
the person indefinitely; the one; anyone
( Webster’s Dictionary of the English
Language )
he:
the male being in question or last
mentioned; anyone; that person
( the American College Dictionary )
根据 “he” 的这种无标记用法,以下四种表达均是
错误的:
1.Someone telephoned me, but when I picked up
the receiver, they suddenly hung it up.
2.Someone telephoned me, but when I picked up
the receiver, she suddenly hung it up.
3.Someone telephoned me, but when I picked up
the receiver, he or she suddenly hung it up.
4.Someone telephoned me, but when I picked up
the receiver, s/he suddenly hung it up.
唯一正确的表达是:
5.Someone telephoned me ,but when I picked up
the receiver, he suddenly hung it up.
A.
Everyone is here, isn’t he?
Sex agreement violation
B.
Everyone is here, aren’t they?
Number agreement violation
Wilson (1560:189)就英语的自然顺
序问题发表如下议论:
Some will set the Carts before the
horse, as thus, My mother and my
father are both at home, yet in
speaking at least, let us keep a
natural order and set the man
before the woman for manner’s
Sake.
“ladies and gentlemen”
“father and mother”
“boys and girls”,
“men and women”,
“males and females”,
“he and she”
“Mr. and Mrs.”,
“John and Mary”
在基督教《圣经》的创世篇里,有这样几段
话:
And the Lord Said, it is not good that the man
should be alone; I will make him an help meet
for him.
And out of the ground the Lord God formed
every beast of the field. and every fowl of the
air; and brought them unto Adam to see what
he would call them: and whatsoever Adam
called every living creature, that was the name
thereof.
And Adam gave names to all cattle,
and to the fowl of the air, and to
every beast of the field; but for
Adam there was not found an help
m e e t
f o r
h i m .
And the Lord God caused a deep
sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept:
and he took one of his ribs, and
closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the rib, which the Lord God
had taken from man, made he a
woman, and brought her unto the
man.
And Adam said, This is
now bone of my bones,
and flesh of my flesh:
she shall be called
Woman, because she was
taken out of Man.
语言领域中的女权运动对阳性代词和
“ man” 的 无标 记用法 进行了 抨击 。 以
“man” 为例,女权主义者争辩道 “man”
并不是指“整个人类”(human being),而
是指“男人的总和”,并举出如下的例子
来充实他们的论点:
1)Man’s vital interests are food, shelter, and
access to females.
2)Man is the only primate that commits
rape.
3 ) ? Man, unlike other mammals, has
difficulties in giving birth.
1)Man’s vital interests are food, shelter, and
access to females.
2)Man is the only primate that commits rape.
3 ) ? Man, unlike other mammals, has
difficulties in giving birth.
从语义的角度来分析,例1)和例2)的
语义显然不包括女性,否则的话,这两
个句子必然会和例3)一样显得荒唐可笑,
不可接受。
因此, “man”的无标记用法是强加给语
言使用者的主观规则,应予以推翻。然
而传统语法作为标准英语的规范由来已
久,根深蒂固。一种表达一旦被社会接
受,且形成了一种惯性力量,就难以驾
御,随心所欲地加以改变。阳性对阴性
的包含关系也不例外。
事实上,在名词中, 不只是 “man” 被用作
了无标记名词,在许多情况下,集合名词在
其语用上都表现出与 “man” 同样的使用模
式。它们一方面把女性包含在集合名词语义
中,另一方面又会把女性排斥在集合名词所
指语义之外,例如:
People sometimes seek their political
power at the sacrifice of their wives and
children.(有标记用法,只指男性。)
1)
有时,人们会牺牲他们的妻子和孩子为代
价以追求政治权力。
2) By law, Americans are not allowed to
have two wives. (有标记使用,只指阳性。)
根据法律,美国人不允许有两个妻子。
3 ) Young people in the university
should concentrate their energy on study
instead of anxiously seeking girl friends. (有
标记用法,只指大学的男同学。)
年轻人在大学应该把精力用在学习上,
不应该把精力放在追求女朋友上。
4) Drivers are supposed to belt
their wives and children for the sake of safety.
(有标记使用,只指男性驾驶员。)
为了安全起见,驾驶员应该给他们的妻子
和孩子系好安全带。
以上这些例句都是排它性用法。有时,这
些集合名词又作为无标记词使用,既包括
男性,又包括女性,例如:
5) People don’t like being ill, but women
put up with it better than men.(无标记使用,
泛指任何人。)
人并不喜欢生病,但是与男人相比,女人
对疾病的耐受力要强。
因此,没有理由相信, “man”只指社会中
“男性成员的总和”,否则,按照这一推
理,英语中许多集合名词也就只能指“男
性”成员。这种逻辑显然荒唐可笑。英语
中,阳性与阴性名词以及集合名词在语用
上表现出的包含关系上的不对称性是英语
社会“男尊女卑”价值观在语言使用中沉
积的结果。
女权运动对英语词汇的影响大致
可以分为三个阶段。 在70年代,
女权主义者把主要目标放在了改
变以阳性代词或名词的无标记使
用上,对词法上含有阳性成分,
语义上无性别标记的词一律把阳
性词尾改为中性词尾,且创造出
与阳性词尾词相对应的阴性词尾
词,使原来阳性结尾的词成为有
标记词,专指男性。
例如: 把“spokesperson,
spokespeople, humankind, chairman”
等词作为中性词取代 “spokesman,
mankind, chairman” 以及“he” 的无
标记使用,使这些具有明确阳性构
词成分的词专门指阳性。在指阴性
时,再把阳性成分改为阴性成分,
如: “spokeswoman, womankind,
chairwoman, congresswoman”等。
进入80年代以后,语言领域中开展女权
运动的人又把注意力转向了男性和女性
相对应词的研究中 。他们发现许多以
“-ess”结尾的与阳性词相对应的阴性词
在语义上并不与阳性词相对应,例如:
“poetess, sculptress, authoress” 在语义上
与 “poet, sculptor, author”相比都蕴有
“less seriousness”的意思,有许多以阴
性词尾结尾的词还含有道德上和性行为
方面的不贞洁之意。
为了改变语言中的这
种不对应现象,在使
用中人们普遍回避具
有明确性别标记的词,
选用一些与原来的词
完全不同的,无明确
性别标记的中性词去
指代相关阳性和阴性
的对应词,例如:
中性词
server
flight attendants
mail carrier
paper carrier
firefighter
police officer
World History
Ordinary people
a farm couple
presiding officer
原来词汇
waiter/waitress
stewards/stewardesses
mailman
paperman
fireman
policeman/policewoman
Man and His World
the common man
the farmer and his wife
chairman/chairwoman
进入90年代以来,性别中性化的发展趋势有了
新的变化。变化的主要特征之一就是具有阳性
语义词的中性化,原来与阳性词相对应的阴性
词逐渐为女性所冷落,且有被淘汰出词汇系统
之外的危险,例如:
中性词
阴性/阳性
actor
actress/actor
host
hostess/host
hero
heroine/hero
comedian
comedienne/comedian
landlord
landlady/landlord
从语言字典的编写来看,一些语言
学家直接或间接地力图在英语数据
的采集和编撰中废除几百年来传统
语法学家在字典编写中所蕴涵的男
子中心主义的思想。以阳性代词对
阴性代词的包含关系为例。
在Collins English Dictionary中,
对 “they”的第三条定义是:
they: not standard, refers to an indefinite
antecedent such as one, whoever, or anybody,
例如:
If anybody objects, they can go.
对“their”的第三条定义是:
their: belonging to or associated in some
way with an indefinite antecedent such as one,
whoever, or anybody,例如:
Everyone should bring their own lunch.
该字典的作者在 “their”的定义下加了
这样一段注释:
The use of their as in sense 3 is
sometimes regarded as unacceptable in
formal contexts, though it has existed in
the language for at least five centuries,
and is common in informal contexts.
由Henry Bosley Woolf主编的Webster’s
New Collegiate Dictionary (1977) 给
“they” 和“their”的部分定义如下:
they: often used with an indefinite third
person singular antecedent
their: used with an indefinite third person
singular antecedent:
英国著名现代语言
学家的代表Sinclair
在1987年编著的
Collins Cobuild
English Language
Dictionary(CCELD)
中放弃了阳性对阴
性的包含关系.
he: 1)to refer to a man or a boy who
has already been mentioned or named,
or whose identity is known.
2)to refer to a person whose sex is
not known or is not stated, esp. after
pronoun such as “someone”, or
“nobody” or when you have used a
singular noun to refer to a particular
class or group of people. Some
people dislike this use.
they:
1)Refer to people, animals or things
that have already been mentioned or
whose identity is known.
2)Instead of “he” or “she”, to refer
to a person whose sex is not known or
stated, esp. after pronoun, such as
“someone” or “nobody” , or when you
have used a singular noun to refer
generally to a particular class or group
of people. Some people dislike this use.
strut: someone who struts walks in a
proud way with their head held high and
their chest out, as if they are very
important.
Stub out: when someone stubs out a cigarette
or cigar, they put it out by pressing the
burning end against something hard.
Stubborn: someone who is stubborn is
determined to do what they want and
very unwilling to change their mind.
Stuff: If you stuff someone in game,
you beat them easily.
What is worth noting here
is that the terms for
females in authority have
taken on sexual meaning.
However, it should not
follow that there are no
derogative terms for men
in English society.
In reality, there are a lot such as " pimp,
stud, cheat, jerk", to name only a few.
But these terms are the words completely
different from the ones used to indicate
male's authority, dignity and nobility.
what is interesting is that while the titles
originally reserved for noble females
have gone through the degradation in
meaning, those terms for noble males
have remained the same.
女权主义者对英语所表现出的憎恶情感在
当时女权运动的背景下是可以理解的。但
是,如果冷静地分析英语的使用情况,不
难发现英语对社会中的每一个成员都是平
等的。不管性别如何,英语的使用都是有
褒有贬。如果只是以语言中的一些表达或
使用来判断所指对象在社会中的形象显然
具有一定的片面性。
如果说英语中,一些使用有损于妇女形
象,那么男性在语言中所折射出来的形
象也并非是女权主义们所声称的那样表
现为一贯的“尊贵”、“高雅”、“具
有绅士风度”。英语中也有大量的表达
法折射出男性的“粗俗”、“下贱”、
“卑鄙”、“庸俗”、“阴险”、“毒
辣”、“酗酒”、“吸毒”、“淫秽”、
“放荡”等。如果说只是以英语中某些
表达法的用法来进行某种价值判断,那
么男性形象并不比女性高大、崇高。他
们甚至成为社会动乱的祸源, 例如:
1)与流氓行为有关:
请看以下两句例句:
a) The witness said that the hooligan
consisted of three people and a woman.
b) ? The witness said that the hooligan
consisted of three people and a man.
第一个例句在语义上是可接受的,而第二个
例句则不可接受。
第一个例句在语义上之所以是自然的是因为
在英语社区中,“hooligan”的使用在其语义
成分中更多地包含[+Male]这一语义成分。
作为集合名词,尽管一个流氓团伙中可能会
有女性加入其中,但是人们在使用这一单词
时,习惯上仍然把[—Male]这一语义特征赋
予了 “hooligan”一词。所以,第二句的例
句在使用了 “hooligan”一词后,把“ man”
排斥在 “hooligan”的语义特征之外,使得
整个语义不自然。
“skunk”一词在Oxford English Dictionary中
被 定 义 为 “ a thoroughly mean or
contemptible person”,即:一个卑鄙的人。但
是这本字典在所提供的三个例句中有两个
明确与阳性词搭配,另一个性别不明:
He is a skunk---a bad chap about the heart.
Now, Tom, you skunk, this is the third time
you’ve forgot to set on that switch.
That miserable old skunk you’ve engaged to
take my place
常见的具有[+Male]语义特征的词还有:
scoundrel(流氓,无赖),rogue(无赖,
流氓,恶棍),scamp(强盗,坏蛋,流
氓 ) , villain ( 恶 棍 , 流 氓 , 淘 气 鬼 ) ,
rascal(流氓),knave(狡猾而惯于欺骗
的 流 氓 ) , fraud ( 诈 骗 者 ) , hypocrite
(伪君子), sneak(偷偷摸摸、鬼鬼祟祟
的人),shyster(奸诈之徒),cad(下流,
流氓,尤指没有君子天性的人;故意违反
行为准则的人),
trickster ( 以 各 种 伪 装 出 现 的 骗 子 ) ,
swindler(诈骗者), grafter(盗贼,骗子),
black sheep(害群之马),ruffian(恶棍,暴
徒),rowdy(小流氓;粗暴且好争吵的人),
scalawag(下流、无耻的流氓),black-guard
( 说话下 流粗俗 的人 ) , blackleg( 骗 子 ) ,
wretch(无耻之徒),wastrel(饭桶,败家
子),
varlet(行为下贱的人),miscreant(道
德 败 坏 的 无 赖 , 歹 徒 ) , gambler ( 赌
徒),bastard(杂种),fink(罢工的破
坏者,告密者),bad egg(坏蛋),
conman ( 欺 诈 钱 财 的 骗 子 ) ,
flimflammer(靠花言巧语等欺诈手段占
便宜的人),two-timer(骗子),goodfor-nothing ( 二 流 子 ) , son of a bitch
(狗崽子)
2)与性行为有关:
rape(强奸),rake(浪荡子;淫荡的人),
rapist(强奸犯),debaucher(诱奸妇女、道
德败坏的人),rip(名声不好、性行为不洁
的浪荡子),betrayer(诱奸后抛弃牺牲品的
人 ) , deceiver ( 骗 子 ) , ravisher ( 强 奸
犯),violator(强奸犯),defiler(亵渎、
侮辱女性的人),rake(淫逸的人),dirty
old man(老色鬼),
Peeping Tom(有窥视瘾癖的人。英国传
说中的人物,Tom系Coventry一裁缝,因
偷看Lady Godiva裸体骑马过市而双目失
明),wolf常指男性。在现代英语中,可
指(1)具有侵略性的男性同性恋者。(2)
在性欲上具有侵略性的男性。(3)引诱
和侵占他人女友或妻子的色狼。sport: 打
扮入时的花花公子,沉醉于酗酒、女人、
赌博、寻欢作乐的人;一个为了寻欢而挥
霍钱财无度,缺乏责任心的人。old Joe:
性病,尤指梅毒和淋病。
3)与动物有关:
serpent: 在基督教《圣经.创记3:1-5》旧约中,
撒旦曾经化作蛇引诱夏娃。“serpent”从此成
了撒旦的代名词,同时也成了“嫉妒、阴险、
恶毒”的象征,如:
Error is a siren and a serpent.
“serpent”也常指阴险、毒辣、狡猾的人,尤其是
指男性,如:
Edmund, I arrest thee on capital treason; and in
they arrest, this guided Serpent.
cur: 原来是个中性词,意思是 “a watch
dog, or shepherd’s dog”, 该词贬义化后,
指 “a surly, ill-bred, low, or cowardly
man”,如:
That I may drive away these curs,
brought hither by an evil fate.
( Bryant Iliad I. viii.263)
worm:常指男性,表示“软弱、可鄙的人”,
如:
a) You are no worm, you are a man; so
get up, lad, and fight…
b) The worm! Maybe he thought he was
doing me a favor.
swine: “下流坯;制造事端,给他人带来麻
烦和痛苦而自己却无所谓的人”,常指男性:
a) You are a cynical swine!
b) He realized what a swine he had been!
dirty dog: 虽然可指“妓女”,但是也具有
“禽兽般恶毒的人”,“社会低下的无用之
辈”,常指男性:如:
a) You dirty dog! You should have evicted
your own mother !
b) He let her down, the dirty dog !
hound dog:美国南部山区用语,因摇滚乐
歌唱家而流行,尤其是在1958年间,美国
摇滚乐猫王艾维斯·普莱斯莱的一曲
“Hound Dog”而流行开来。这一短语现指
“一个除‘性’以外什么也不想的人”;
“色鬼;专门追求女性的人”。
bum: 流浪汉,尤指穷困潦倒、卑贱、
肮脏、酗酒成性的男子。他们没有职业、
生活目标、或社会地位。他们四处行骗,
声名狼藉。
常见的主要用于指男性的动物还有:
stool pigeon( 引 诱 别 人 上 圈 套 的 人 ),
mongrel(杂种), reptile(可怜虫;背躬屈节的
人),rat(危难时变节的小人;卑鄙的小人
), viper(毒如蛇蝎的人), snake(卑劣的
人),polecat(可鄙、可恶的人),insect
(渺小、无能的人;二次大战美国海军用
语,指年轻无经验的海军少尉), louse(
任何使人讨厌的人,通常指缺乏人性、仁
慈、慷慨与道德的男性)
4)与酗酒有关:
drunkard(醉鬼),lush(酒鬼,尤指有工作、
家庭并在社会上小有地位的习惯性酒徒),
boozehound(嗜酒成性的人),souse(狂饮作乐
的人),tank(醉汉),toper(酗酒的人;纵情饮
酒 的 人 ) , souse ( 嗜 酒 成 性 的 醉 汉 ) , hoochhound(尤指沉迷于喝劣质自制私酒的人),rumpot(醉鬼),rum-dum(酒徒;一个由于经常醉酒
而愚蠢、懒惰、无用、迷糊的人), pub-crawler(烂
醉如泥的醉汉), wino(酒鬼,尤指喝低价酒的无
业酒徒), rounder(喝酒无度的浪荡子)
5)以违法行为有关:
crook(职业罪犯),conspirator(搞
阴谋诡计的人), racketeer(从事令人怀疑
、不道德的事业;通过敲诈勒索等非法手
段获取钱财的人),gangster(歹徒;匪徒)
,outlaw(歹徒;亡命之徒),jailbird(
囚犯或有犯罪前科记录的罪犯),
desperado ( 胆 大 妄 为 的 亡 命 之 徒 ) ,
bookie(以赌赛马为生的人)
6)与上了年纪的人有关:
geezer(老家伙,通常为不知名的、年老而
古怪的男人),old goat( 上了年纪而令人讨
厌的人,尤指男性自大、吝啬、寒酸、固执、
冷酷无情的老人),old fool(愚蠢、笨拙的
老人),coot(上了年纪的愚蠢的老家伙),
codger(脾气古怪的老家伙),fogey(守旧
保守的老人),crone(干瘪的丑老太婆)
7)与青少年有关:
squirt(个头矮,且行为浮华、放肆、卑贱
的年轻人),young punk(低级的流氓,尤指
年轻的小流氓或年轻的罪犯),wench(原意是
乡村的小女孩,贬义化后意为妓女。在现代英
语中,现在又有褒义化趋向,可指任何女孩,
尤指那些动人活泼的女孩,在年轻人中被广泛
使用。),
cookie pusher(一个不努力而想通过巴结
奉承上司被提拔的人;马屁精),
gamin(顽童;游荡街头、流气十足的孩
子),titty-boo(野性十足的少女;问题少
女,通常指所犯罪为吸毒、性行为不贞
洁等非职业性、非暴力性一类的犯罪行
为),hep cat(花花公子;追求女人、放
荡生活的年轻人)
8)与农民有关:
yokel(乡巴佬), hick(乡下人;住在乡
下或小集镇上的土头土脑的人;四肢发达、
头脑简单、不懂人情世故的农民),rube(一
个愚蠢的农夫;乡巴佬),bumpkin(土包子;
乡巴佬),clod(笨拙的乡下佬),villain(原
意是农夫,现在主要指守财奴;粗暴的人),
boor(原意是农夫,现在主要指粗鲁、无礼、
笨拙的人),churl(原来指农夫,现在指没有
教养的人),clown(原来的意思是农民,贬义
化后指小丑),redneck(乡下人;穷困的南方
白种农人;令人讨厌的嬉皮士)
9) 与劳动者有关:
flunky(贬:穿号衣的男仆),hack(贬:惟命
是从的工作人员),drudge(贬:做苦工、服贱
役的人)
10)与医生有关:
quack ( 冒 牌 医 生 ; 江 湖 骗 子 ) ,
croaker(黑社会、吸毒者等对医生的贬
称),pill pusher(旨在推销药物的医生),
butcher(技术水平低劣的外科医生 ),
chalatan(江湖医生;一个装腔作势、冒
充有医疗水平的人),mountebank (走江
湖、卖假药的江湖医生)
11)与律师有关:
shyster ( 不 择 手 段 的 律 师 ) ,
ambulance chaser(怂恿事故受伤者进行
起诉的律师)
12)与警察有关:
beat(对警察的贬称,由“打人”一词使
人联想起警察的野蛮粗暴的形象),pounder
(对巡警的贬称),cop(警察,源于警察
制服上一度所使用的铜扣,后通过借代手段
用来指警察,含有对法律的鄙视,对警察的
贬损之意),
copper(由 “Copper button”缩略而来,主
要在下层社会中使用,有对警察贬损之意),
the bull(警察,任何种类的执法官员;原为
游民和黑社会用语;该词的意思与西班牙语
“bul”有关。在西班牙语中,“bul”的意思
是“policeman”。同时英语中“bull”的意思
“公牛”因其身体庞大而凶猛而强化了这一
语义。)
13)与从事政治的人有关:
agitator ( 从 事 政 治 上 的 煽 动 者 ) ,
demagogue(蛊惑民心的政客),timeserver
(随波逐流、没有主见的政客),political
panderer(政治流氓),poser(在政治上装
腔作势,故作姿态的人),rabble rouser(蛊
惑民心的政客),
baby-kisser(政治家;政客;政治家门在
竞选时常装出友善的姿态与成年人握手并
亲吻他们的孩子,以争取选票。语义由此
而来),arm-waver(一个自以为是,以
爱国自居的从事政治煽动的人,
shyster(政治上的奸诈之徒),hooligan(政
治恶棍;作为政治等特殊势力的代表企图
压倒其他人的合法和人道权利的人)
以上英语使用情况向人们展示英语
中存在着大量诋毁男性高贵声誉的
词。如果说英语在使用上表现出性
别歧视现象的话,那么男性在英语
使用中同样受到了歧视。
一些女权主义者把英语看成是一种性别
歧视语言。她们收集了一些英语的用法,
并由此得出英语是性别歧视语言。这些
女权主义者忽视了语言与语言使用的区
别。语言作为一种体系是社会约定俗成,
为语言社区所共有。正如语言没有阶级
性一样,语言作为一种体系也不可能在
性别上存在歧视性的差异。但是这种系
统的使用确实可以在一定的程度上反映
出语言使用者的主观态度。因此,有必
要把语言与语言使用区分开来。
男性在人类社会中,凭着自身健壮有力的身
体征服了女性。为了确保自己在社会中的统
治地位,他们把许多贬义成分赋予阴性词以
显示男性的至高无上。这似乎已成了人类社
会的共识。汉语语言中,大量具有贬义色彩
的词都是以“女”为偏旁,如“怒”,
“奴”,“奸”,“妓”,“嫉妒”,
“妖”,“嫖”,“婪”,“嫩”,“娇”,
“娼”等。
在英语社会中,男性用来指女性的词的各种
消极性语义也正说明了男性对女性消极的价
值判断,即把女性首先作为性宣泄的对象。
这种价值判断通过语言使用被物化于词义之
中。在父权制的社会中,男性有这种力量。
他们在社会价值观念的形成中起着主导作用。
他们甚至能够突破社会被禁忌的诸如“性”
的那些范畴,并把对社会禁忌范畴的突破看
成是男性力量的象征之一。如果女性违反了
禁忌的范畴,便被认为是违反了道德观念,
就会遭到包括女性在内的全社会的唾弃,甚
至因此受到监禁,直至判处死刑。
当Nathaniel Hawthorne于1864年去世后,他的
妻子Sophia Peabody对Hawthorne作品仔细地
进行了审阅,删除了Hawthorne作品中所有在
当时被禁忌的 “leg” 一词,用“limb”取而代
之。在Hawthorne所处的时代,钢琴和椅子的
腿都不能裸露,何况人的腿呢?
有趣的是Hawthorne 在自己的作品中突
破了这种社会禁忌。他的妻子对丈夫的
这种突破禁忌范畴的作法只是保持沉默
或者说是一种无奈,直到丈夫去世后才
采取了一些她认为是得体的行动。这个
事实至少展示了两个基本事实:一是男
人突破禁忌的力量,二是女人对禁忌范
畴的敏感性。
男性对禁忌范畴突破的力量使得他们能够把
“ 性 ” 语 义 注 入 到 诸 如 “ queen”, “miss”,
“madam”, “woman”, “girl”, “mother”, “lady”等
阴性词之中,并在他们规定的意义上使用这
些词。女性则不同。特定的社会价值观使她
们至少不能向男性那样谈论性行为,或者向
男 性 那 样 把 “ 性 ” 含 义 注 入 诸 如
“gentleman”, “mister”, “master”, “governor”,
“king”, “father”之中。
当我们用一个词去指一个客观事物时,人们
也可以只是把这个词的某一部分特征赋予了
所指对象,而不是这个词所指语义的总和。
语境的存在使得交际双方能够在一个词的不
同 的 语 义 之 间 进 行 正 确 的 选 择。 以 英 语 中
“mother”为例:
mother
母亲 母兽 根源 女隐修道院院长 大娘 女祖先 大家伙
女
妓
当我们把 “mother”这一符号赋予某个
所指对象时,并不是说某人只是一位
母亲,也不是说我们把“母亲”、
“母兽”、“根源”、“女隐修道院
院长”、“大娘” 、“女祖先”、
“大家伙”、“妓女”等内容同时赋
予了被称之为 “mother”的所指对象。
在特定的语境中,我们只是把这一符
号下的某个或某些特征赋予了所指对
象。
这种现象不仅发生在一个符号的所指
语义上,而且也发生在语言外围的,
与个人经验有关的,具有主观色彩的
内涵语义上。以 “woman”为例:
有母性
善于烹调
文静
富有同情心
woman
缺乏理性
(妇女)
胆怯
心胸狭窄
爱唠叨
当一个人把一个对象称为 “woman”时,
并不会把 “woman”所有的内涵语义都赋
予给这一对象。说话人选择什么样的内涵
语义与说话人的个人经历密切相关。从词
义的发展来看,任何词都可能有一个中心
语义,并且围绕这个中心语义衍射出一系
列的次要语义。这些次要语义与中心语义
存在千丝万屡的联系,但是由中心语义衍
射出来的各次要语义之间的关系既相互联
系,又相对独立。这就使得在同一个词下
产生具有不同褒贬词义的次要语义成为可
能。
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